The Reds will make Bronson Arroyo a one-year offer, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney. The Reds may be competing with three other teams, including the Twins, tweets Jon Heyman from CBS. Added context from the Enquirer.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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  1. The Old Cossack would have not problem with seeing Arroyo back in a Reds’ uniform and taking the mound at GABP on a 1-2 year contract…at the right price.

    If the Reds are seeking an additional starter, Arroyo is not the Old Cossack’s first choice of the remaining FA starters, although he may be the best available to the Reds. If the Reds are going to offer a 1-2 contract on a FA stater, I really want to see them make a run at Burnett. Burnett still has not announce his decision on retirement and if he doesn’t retire, the Bucos and Os probably have the inside track to sign him, but man would Burnett look good in a Reds’ uniform.

    Arroyo’s BB/9 (1.5) is much better than Burnett’s BB/9 (3.2), but that is offset by Burnett’s HR/9 (0.5) compared to Arroyo’s HR/9 (1.4). The kicker is Burnett’s ability to miss bats (9.8 SO/9) and his spectacular ground ball rate (50%+). Those numbers would play specacularly in GABP.

    • @Shchi Cossack: Would not be upset about either of them signing. Do like Burnett’s ground all rate that’s for sure.

    • @Shchi Cossack: As much as I have come respect Arroyo’s approach and ability to produce results given his raw physical skills, Burnett might be the better pick for the Reds at this point.
      Based on some of the reports about Pittsburgh, Burnett might provide some sorely needed player leadership and focus for the Reds while Arroyo seems to be one of those, a bit like Joey V, who marches to his own drum beat.

    • Burnett still has not announce his decision on retirement and if he doesn’t retire, the Bucos and Os probably have the inside track to sign him, but man would Burnett look good in a Reds’ uniform.

      Gotta agree with that. Certainly looks like he has at least one more year in the tank after seeing him pitch last season. Too bad the Reds’ rotation’s tattoo quota has already been filled by Latos.

  2. If Arroyo does accept (which I hope happen) what will the Reds do with their rotation? Will they shop Bailey/Leake? Or are they not sure on the reliability of Cueto or Cingrani? Perhaps Cingrani or Leake could work out of the bullpen at the start of the year and if someone goes down they could step into the rotation. I’m interested to see what dominoes will fall if Arroyo accepts the offer.

  3. So if the Reds sign Arroyo, does that open up a spot to trade a starter, therefore facilitating a trade to someone? If Phillips is still expecting to get money out of a trade to another team, then maybe that allows the Reds to trade a starter to NY and then after getting Gardner, they maybe trade Phillips to a team he wont hold hostage.

    Burnett’s expressed intention is to decide whether he would retire or re-sign with Pittsburgh. I do not know that the Os have the kind of money Burnett would want to move again.

    • @redmountain: The fact the Reds were apparently seriously in on Infante right at the end, indicates to me that the money they would have spent on Infante is probably what they have for Choo without clearing some payroll or significantly increasing the payroll budget.

      I think it is possible that in his heart of hearts Choo really wants to be back in Cincy and is holding off to give the Reds every opportunity to come up with the money.

      In my mind the pool where the money can come from is some combination of BP, Bailey, Marshall, Chapman and Ludwick (and interestingly enough Ludwick is the only one whose name hasn’t made the rumor mill yet).

      I think all this intertwined situation this is part of the reason WJ seems to keep coming up a day late and a dollar short on everything else we hear the Reds mentioned with. He is on a real tight rope. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out.

      • @OhioJim: Let me reword one part from above…. The net savings from signing Infante and then moving Phillips (perhaps for less return) could be the swing the Reds need to sign Choo.

  4. Another great scoop from reds beat writer…..Buster Olney…LOL!

  5. So Uribe goes back to the LAD. The pool of available FA has dwinddled very quickly this off season and the pool of available impact FA is getting very sparse. As long as Choo is still out there, I suppose the Reds have a chance to re-sign him. I really look for Cruz to sign with TEX on a shorter, cheaper contract than Choo will ultimately receive. I think Jim has a pretty good perspective on what might happen or has to happen if the Reds do have a chance to re-sign Choo. Votto, Bruce & Choo would make a solid LH core to build around for the next 4 years with Votto and Choo finishing their careers in Cincinnati. I just don’t know that Bruce can be extended beyond 2017 so he can finish his career in Cincinnati.

  6. Would 6 years @ $17MM per ($102MM) with a vesting option @ $17MM for a 7th year be enough to bring Choo home and would the Reds make that commitment. I can’t see Winker or Ervin being major league ready for 2015 (maybe Ervin). Unless Ludwick comes through big time (I’m not holding my breath on that one) in 2014 and the reds pick up his 2015 option, the Reds will need to sign a corner OF in 2015 too and that’s assuming Hamilton comes through and is major league ready for 2015 for CF. Otherwise the Reds will need to sign 2 OF for 2015.

    • @Shchi Cossack: Too long and too much for a guy who will be 32 when the 2014 season ends and hit .215/.347/.265 with 0 HR in 181 AB versus LHP last season. That means he was far and away subpar in 31.8% of his AB. You can’t give 6yr/$102m to a 31-32 year old ultimate platoon player. That contract would be regretted very quickly.

    • @ToddAlmighty: I understand your concerns and don’t disagree with your logic. Choo has been a major league starter for 6 seasons with a slash line of .290/.392/.469 over those 6 seasons. He has always had difficulty against LHP, yet still maintained superb production by simply killing RHP and hitting OK against LHP. Choo’s game is not built on speed or power. It’s built on getting on base and making the pitcher pitch to him and those are the skills the Reds need in a top of the order hitter. His career split against LHP is .243/.340/.341 & against RHP is .309/.411/.521. Even against LHP, Choo gets on base at league-average rate.

      I compare the $17MM with the $21MM paid to Ellsbury in today’s market. Ellsbury is one year younger than Choo. He has a he has a slash line over the past 6 seasons of .295/.349/.426. Ellsbury’s game is strongly based on speed and speed ages poorly along with power. I think Ellsbury’s contract was ludicrous.

      I think Choo’s baseball skills and production will age much better, much like Votto’s skills and production. The risk in not signing Choo is that the Reds will be placing a like amount of risk in Hamilton and Ervin being major-league ready and major-league productive in 2015. It’s a tough call. I hope BC and WJ make the correct call. Of course if they don’t, we’ll be here to crucify and vilify them!

  7. Anyone else feel like we’re starting to rearrange the deck chairs here? I’m a bit worried our window is firmly in the “closing” stage. The trade for Choo last year was an all in move and Dusty totally blew it. Burnett, Arroyo, swapping out Phillips for Infante, etc are notices that vault this te to some new height. The hope is that they underachieved so badly last year that even a slight hit in production (read: losing Choo) can be overcome, but it’s starting to look a lot more like we might have missed our shot. I’m starting to see this team as something like the 2009-2011 Brewers who seemed like they had the pieces to be contenders but eventually fell apart. Meanwhile St Louis is stocked to the gills with young talent, somehow.

    • @eric nyc: So far, it does look like a few peripheral deck chairs being moved a bit. But free agents were never going to be WJ’s path to the post-season–it’ll be trades, if anything. Can’t agree that losing Choo is just a “slight” hit to production, nor that last year can be blamed entirely on Dusty–most guys didn’t hit well, but that ground has been covered. My belief is that success, long and short term, will come from the organization. Getting a name in a trade is not enough to boost a team like the Reds–marginal post-season contenders–over the top.

      • @greenmtred: I agree that losing Choo is huge. I was trying to envision whatever the company line might be if this offseason ends up being as unproductive as it’s shaping out to be. That somehow the front office will expect a rookie manager to take the same team that got bounced from the playoffs in embarrassing fashion minus its 2nd best hitter and actually improve. In a division that will likely see improved Cardinals and Cubs teams, no less. That Billy Hamilton will arrive at the major league level and suddenly out-perform every offensive expectation he’s realistically set throughout his minor league career. That Ryan Ludwick will magically return to 2012 or earlier form. Basically that the 2013 collapse was all just a statistical mirage with a lot of blame placed on an old-school manager. So keep coming out to the park, Reds fans!

        Obviously that’s all nonsense. This lineup was at best average all around last year with the exception of Choo and Votto. Joey’s gonna Joey, we all know that. But year after year you look at the lines of the rest of the lineup and see a lot of really middling numbers. And considering we basically spent all of our prospect chips to get Latos and Choo, I’m getting the distinct impression that we’re sliding downhill fast. The Cardinals are just SUCH a better organization – that’s not even a subjective statement. THeir farm system is LOADED. I have no idea how they manage to do it. They lose a one in a century player like Pujols and a probably HOF’er in Carpenter and get BETTER. And still manage to keep the most talent-rich minor league system in baseball completely intact? I mean that’s just not fair. The only way to compete with that is to be creative, and I just don’t see Walt being terribly creative. As much of a joke as its become, he really does just seem to want to assemble as many ex-Cardinals as he can find in his rolodex on one roster. I still expect some large-ish trade to happen this post season, but like you I don’t think it will be enough. Assuming it will be a big bat to hit behind Votto, it will have to be accompanied by a miraculous rookie campaign from Hamilton and an MVP-caliber performance from Bruce plus a lot more luck in the pitching injury department than we got last year. That’s a lot of moving parts. Fingers crossed…

        • @eric nyc: I agree with what you’re saying here. The biggest problem the Reds have organizationally is that they are too loyal.

          Now, I know that doesn’t sound like a problem. But if you’re a mid-market team, you have to have a constant supply of young talent coming up to the majors. That’s just a fact. And the only way to do that is to trade guys before they leave in free agency or get too expensive.

          But the Reds clearly love “their guys.” Jockety loves “his guys” so much that he brings guys back from STL. These Reds are much more ready to extend a player than to trade him for prospects. Sometimes this works out fine, but sometimes it ends up getting the Reds in trouble.

          Now we find ourselves in the position of having no money for free agents, no prospects that are going to be contributors this season (most likely), and a thin farm system to trade from. Which basically means no way to get better.

  8. Not to mention, I really miss Bronson in his T-ball helmet. Everytime he gets on first I expect him to start yelling “Pitcher’s off his rocker, throws like Betty Crocker.”

  9. Twins agree to terms with Pelfrey, so are they out of the running for Arroyo?

  10. I’m sure the ink won’t dry on this before it’s unofficially a fact.

    If Bronson doesn’t sign with the Reds, I will be astonished.

  11. this leads to believe one of 3 things.

    1. They are really shopping Homer Bailey.

    2. They are concerned about Johnny Ceuto’s health, and possibly Tony Cingrani’s.

    3. They’ve decided to keep Chapman in the pen.

    I would most likely go with number 2.

  12. Question: if a club makes a qualifying offer and the player turns it down and and becomes FA and then resigns with original team does the team lose a draft pick?

    • @BRED: No. The team gains a comp pick if the player signs with a new team and the new team loses its highest unprotected draft pick. If the FA simply re-signs with the same team, then all’s good in Gotham.

  13. Unsurprisingly, the Cards make a solid signing of Mark Ellis for a 1 year deal.

    This time next year: “Reds sign Mark Ellis to 2 Year Deal.”

    • @CP: Agree all around… Sadly.

    • @CP: I’m not that excited about the Ellis signing. Now the Cards have TWO guys who basically only play 2B; the presumed starter Wong and Ellis. Ellis doesn’t have any more value at the plate than Schumaker, and he brings no position flex.

      Did not see any salary info., but I would presume that he’s costlier than Skip while offering no versatility in the field.

      • @earmbrister: The point being that I’m happier with Skip Schu as a bench player, than with Ellis.

        Ellis will be 37 yrs old this year. The Cards can have him and his declining stats.

        • @earmbrister: True, there is some value to versatility. They are both similar hitters who will be utilized in similar manners given their splits. However, Ellis is still a very good fielder at 2B and Schumaker isn’t. The Cardinals simply didn’t need a below average hitter to play multiple positions (albeit poorly). Their roster the past 2 seasons has been a lot more flexible than the Reds.

          “The Cards can have him and his declining stats”

          1. Where exactly is the decline? All I see is variance. I’ll take a 92 wRC+ from a 2B with Ellis’s defense for his contract. Note: Ellis’ 92 wRC+ > BP’s 91 wRC+…

          2. Assuming there is some sort of rapid decline, the Cards would only be stuck with him for 1 season. Schumaker will be 33 this season…if he declines the Reds are stuck with him another season. Undoubtedly, both players are on the wrong side of the aging curve, but each individual player ages differently…

          3. It’s possible both players are just better fits for each organization. Ellis would, imo, be a better potential starting 2B than Schumaker if BP was traded. Schumaker’s versatility might be more useful for the Reds considering their lack of depth.

          • @CP: I agree that they are both similar hitters. Schumaker’s career slashes are .285/.344/.372. Ellis’ career slashes are .265/.330/.390. I don’t see either as a below average hitter, certainly not to the depths of some of the more recent Reds bench players.

            As for declining stats, there is some assumption there on my part, as well as some support. One can assume that an age 37 player will not perform at the plate, nor in the field, as well as that same player at an earlier age. Hence the reluctance of some here to give Choo a 6 or 7 yr contract, that would take him into his late 30’s. The decline in Ellis’ stats to date has been in his SLG %. He had some pop back in his earlier years (high water marks of .477 and .441) vs his last several years (incl’g .364 and .351 the last 2 yrs).

            The Reds bench has been abysmal the last couple of years. Schumaker is a solid addition. If the Cards aren’t convinced that Wong can handle the starting job (1st round draft pick who hit in the minors, but is only 23) than Ellis is a solid addition for them. But if Ellis is on the bench, he can only play 2B (just like Wong) and the value of his fielding prowess is diminished while sitting. If Ellis doesn’t start, the Cards are down to 3 players on the bench to cover the corner IF spots, SS, and the 3 outfield spots.

            I have to believe (say it’s so WJ) that both teams made these signings for backup spots. That said, Ellis is more likely to start than Schumaker at 2B as their Plan B, though Wong will almost certainly be given every opportunity to win the starting job.

            As bench players, I’ll take Schumaker’s ability to play 4 positions over Ellis ability to field 1 position well. Not to mention that he’s 3 years younger than Ellis.

  14. Just saw that Ellis signing too. I hate this I know something big is going to happen anytime it seems like Walt makes a trade it seems like it’s always for someone off the radar. This is far fetched but maybe CarGo I know they say he is not available but apparently we have some parts that they like. A guy can dream right?

  15. With Elllis going to the Cards, that’s one less option for the Yanks.

  16. Sounds more like Phillips to the Dodgers for Kemp than anything else.

    • @Johnu1:

      When the Dodgers signed Uribe to a 2 year deal, that killed off any BP to LAD hopes. NNY and ATL are about all thats left.

      Whats on Arroyo’s mind. One year in Cincy and a chance to contend. Or two years in MINN and always looking up at DET. Hmm, if he wants a chance at a ring, then…
      I still think Arroyo can be a viable bullpen option after 2014, or maybe sometime this year. Whats $10 M more in the bullpen?? lol.

  17. I hate to say this, but it is looking like a messier situation every minute. Jocketty will need to do something, but maybe it does not come together right away. As it stands right now, Phillips or Votto hits 2nd and third, but who leads off? Hamilton it would appear, but he is unproven. The rest of lineup is set so addition by subtraction would probably have to happen. I know this is obvious, but most of the posts seem to neglect that problem. Trading Phillips for Kemp does not help unless it is accompanied with another move that gets a lead off hitter and a second baseman. It seems that most aren’t seeing that second move that will have to be made.

    • ….It seems that most aren’t seeing that second move that will have to be made.

      No, they just believe that if Santa brings BHam or HRod a special 2B glovem either one of them could step right in and play 2B like a major leaguer. 🙂

  18. I think Phillips probably still winds up in NY, but a third team will have to get involved. Maybe the White Sox? I’m thinking something like Phillips to the Yankees, De Aza to the Reds, and prospects from NY to the Sox.

    That would leave the Reds with a hole at 2B, so maybe they deal Bailey to the Diamondbacks for Owings+ or to the Mariners for Franklin+. Or they could still sign Stephen Drew. If the Reds do deal Bailey, I expect them to re-sign Arroyo to bridge the gap until Stephenson is ready.

    In the end, I wouldn’t fret too much. There are still options out there, and even if a particular team doesn’t seem like a fit, a third team can always get involved. Ho

  19. Agreed, a Phillips-for-Kemp makes little sense unless the Reds believe:

    a. Schmumaker and/or Hen-Rod can play well enough at 2B to account for the defense.

    b. Kemp’s bat makes up for that shortage of offense.

    c. Hamilton (or a deal we haven’t seen yet) is ready for CF.

  20. This is the week WJ gets it done.
    A whisper out there,
    BP, Homer Bailey and Nick Traveiso and/or an OF prospect to ATL. If its YorRod or Winker, then Traveiso won’t be a part, it’ll be a lower ranked P. If Traveiso is included, it’ll be a much lower ranked OF.
    To CIN, OF Justin Upton (the right Upton brother), SS/2B Tyler Pastornicky and P Alex Wood.
    WJ gets his RH hitting LF to bat 4th, a backup middle INF and a good young P to replace Bailey.
    ATL gets their ace, a severe upgrade at 2B and a P/OF that is about 2 years or less away from MLB.

    • @WVRedlegs: I would do this deal. Wood could step in and start, and he’s controllable so that helps solve some of the major rotation questions down the road. Upton would probably play RF and it would shift Bruce to CF for a year, but I’m alright with that. And having a cheap, young MIF is at least better than picking off the FA garbage heap like we have for the last few years.

      Of course, we have a hole at 2B still unless you want to start Pastornicky there. Maybe a platoon with Schumaker and Pastornicky gets it done. Maybe we make a second deal involving Chapman to Seattle. I don’t know.

      I would hate to give up Winker. Especially since we’ve had a void in LF for such a long time. But Ervin appears to be on the same, if not slightly faster trajectory to the MLBs and we would still have other solid OF prospects. But we would need someone to be ready by 2016 as Upton’s deal would be done. But overall I like where you’re going.

  21. Another option may be dialing up the Astros. Bailey is a native Texan and may be amenable to a contract extension with them. They certainly should have some payroll flexibility after only spending 26mil last season. A Bailey/Phillips/prospect trade to the Astros for Altuve and one of their young OF’ers Hoes/Grossman/Springer.

    The Astros get some veteran presence with Phillips and they get a home-grown ace to lead their young staff. Of course this may all fall upon Bailey’s willingness to sign an extension. But the Reds would get a great option at 2B, who’s controllable and an OFer to help for next year and beyond.

    Of course the prospect we give in the deal will have to be a significant one, Travieso, YRod, Winker, etc. Maybe we throw some BP help their way as well.

    • @hotto4votto: Sorry, but this deal sounds terrible for the Reds. I don’t understand why the Reds would trade Bailey unless the Reds would be *receiving* the prospect, not giving one away. I think the Reds would be much better off either extending him, or letting him walk and getting the draft pick via the qualifying offer. If the Reds shop him this offseason, it needs to be a James Shields-Wil Myers type of deal, bringing a top-tier prospect to the Reds.

      Also, pure speculation on my part, but I don’t think Phillips would be a very happy camper being the veteran presence on a AAA-talent type of team. I think his off-the-field flubs with the media would end up being magnified with the frustrations of losing 100 games. Can’t imagine that Houston wants him, especially if they have to give up their most notable player in Altuve.

      I could definitely see Houston going after Bailey hard next offseason, but it would be foolish for them to compromise their future for a 2014 which is bound to be dismal. The guys in their system just aren’t ready to compete yet, but look out in a few years.

      • @dc937: The reason the Reds would have to sweeten the deal with a prospect is that you are asking the Astros to take on Phillips contract while getting back two young, controllable, affordable players, one of whom is an All-Star. The OF coming to the Reds in this case would basically be a MLB ready prospect. We are giving up one year of Bailey (and potential comp pick) along with shedding Phillips 50mil over the next four years. The Reds would be shedding around 20mil in the deal just for next year. That allows them to sign Arroyo and another FA to address needs for next year.

        This is all based on two assumptions, the Reds are determined to move Phillips and Bailey isn’t signing an extension. If both are true, this deal would shed significant salary for next year (as well as the remaining years on Phillips contract), and give us back two young, promising players. Theoretically the money saved could be used to resign Choo as it would free up a lot of money.

  22. Phillips to the Yankees for Micheal Pineda and a little cash, Homer Bailey to the Mariners for Nick Franklin.

  23. This is unrelated to the thread, but I thought important enough to post: The test from Ryan Freel are back and he was diagnosed from suffering from CTE, level 2, which is catorgorized as having symptoms including profound depression and memory loss. It certainly is possible that this was contributory to the tragic ending of his life. I read an interview conducted with his step-falther who was grateful, as it puts some closure on this tradgedy. This is the first confirmed diagnosis for a MLB player. On a personal note this is very sobering. I have epilepsy and some memory issues which is believed to be at least partially due to a concussion syndrome (I recently suffered my fourth confirmed one). While I would never wish this on anyone, those of us who have a similar diagnosis are grateful that the seriousness of this condition is finally coming to light. When I was younger, I was told I “just got my bell rung” and it was laughed off after some Vicodin. It’s certainly no laughing matter. RIP Ryan. I truly believe that not only did you inspire people with your all out playing style, but you are still helping to provide hope and help today. Thanks.

  24. To me, if the options the Reds have are 1) go into this season with the same team we had last year, except substitute Hamilton for Choo, or 2) make some significant moves that make winning in 2014 less likely, but winning down the road more likely…

    I would choose door #2. Why? Because I don’t think that anyone thinking about the Reds objectively can say that option #1 puts them in a good position to make a deep run in the playoffs in 2014, so going with option 2 doesn’t really cost the Reds anything.

    • @al: I disagree. The Reds can win with this team. The margin of error will be small and it will be boring and at times extremely frustrating to watch, but it is essentially the model San Francisco used to win the world series in 2010 and 2012.

      • @CP: I don’t want to be too negative, I’m obviously rooting for the Reds whatever they do, and it’s true that any team can win if you get into the post-season.

        I’m just trying to be realistic.

        The Reds were 10th in MLB in fWAR last year. Above average, but not elite.

        The Reds were 12th in runs scored last year. Slightly above average.

        The Reds were 4th in ERA last year, which is legitimately great.

        But the Reds were 13th in FIP which is much more average, and since we didn’t play spectacular defense, we can expect the Reds pitching to be more average next year.

        So if you take a slightly above average offensive team and subtract it’s second best hitter, and put that with a solidly above average, but not elite, pitching staff, do you get a World Series caliber team?

        I don’t see it.

  25. The most obvious moves that I see are the ones that have been discussed all winter: Trade Bailey, Chapman, and Phillips. The thing that I would change is that Jockety keeps saying that he’ll only make moves that improve the 2014 team.

    I would start seeing what we could get for those guys in terms of prospects and salary relief alone.

    • @al: I’m with you 100% regarding worrying less about 2014 and more about 2015 & 2016. The time for win now at all costs was 2013. The Reds simply can’t afford to give up any more than 1 OF prospect (Winker, Yorman or Ervin) from their minor league system without jeopardizing future viability.

      With Arroyo holding out for a 3 year deal, it doesn’t look promising for a return to the Reds unless no one steps up fo a 3 year deal. I could possibly see a 2 year deal, but certainly not a 3 year deal for Arroyo.

      I still think the Jays represent the best landing spot for Phillips this off season. The Jays have two 2B options on their 40 man roster and none even close in their farm system. Izturis is a utility IF entering his age 34 season with a 72 OPS+ over the past 2 seasons and marginal fielding skills. Goins is a utility IF entering his age 26 season with a 66 OPS+ in 120 major league AB, marginal fielding skills and a .707 OPS in 5 minor league seasons. They need a 2B and Phillips would fill their 2B needs nicely until another option can be developed through their farm system in a few years.

      Maybe Phillips for Stroman (AA) or Phillips for Norris (A+) & Cardona (ROK) could be negotiated by WJ. Of course if the Jays are among Phillips’ 12 no-trade options, that’s a problem. Of course if the Jays would be willing to talk about Bautista, a more significant package could be bundled along with Phillips. After this off season, I don’t think Phillips’ contract is even an impediment, but if necessary, the Reds could kick in a couple $MM per season of the contract to make the right deal work. The Reds must get value (either major league or prospects) in return for any deal.

      • @Shchi Cossack: if you are considering the off season as after 2014 then i am concerned about BP’s status as 5/10

        i think Price will help BP if he stays with the club

      • @Shchi Cossack: I’ve thought that the Jays would be a good trade partner for the Reds since the beginning, and they’re still looking for a 2b and a pitcher. I would look for Bautista and prospects, for Phillips and Bailey.

  26. I hate to say this considering all the time this organization has invested in him, but trading Bailey seems like the only logical means to improving this team. I believe if there was going to be an extension of his contact it would be done moving forward I think the most attractive package we could put together is an Phillips/Bailey package I do like the proposed Atlanta trade. What stinks is we had one Wood that had an affordable contract could of should have wood have right?????? That’s called word play bloggers!

  27. All I can say really is, I don’t envy Jocketty right now. We can make all the imaginary trades that we want but the other team has to want to do the deals too. It’s very possible that the Reds can’t get the value out of BP that they’d like to. In which case, they need to hold onto him and do their best to make a working relationship work. The guy the Reds can likely part with and get good value for is Chapman. They’d probably need to sign some bullpen help but Chapman is really the only guy that it makes a lot of sense for the Reds to move.

    With Bailey, I think the best move is to hold onto him unless you can get a marquee prospect for him or someone gets really creative and blows you away with a proposal. I think Leake has value because of the 2 years of team control a team has left but that’s also a reason why he has value for the Reds to keep him. Again, I’d only be willing to move him if someone blew me away with an offer. I’d be slightly more inclined to move Leake or Bailey if Arroyo is back.

  28. So quiet… the longer this goes on, the more I think this will end up just like last season. 3rd in the division. I really hope something good happens and proves me wrong.

    • @ToddAlmighty: Until the fat lady sings…Choo is still out there…

      • @Shchi Cossack: The Reds really need a bat, but I am more and more convinced I don’t think Choo should be it. There’s a lot of talk about 6-7 year contracts. That’s an awful lot to commit to a 31-32 year old guy who should be platooned.

        I was all for trying to sign him when I thought it’d be like a 4yr/$60m type deal. But 6-7yrs/$100m+?

        I think that contract would end up being the same problem as BP.. just minus all the the media outlashes and clubhouse distraction.

        • @ToddAlmighty: I tend to agree. I think Choo will probably age pretty gracefully, since so much of his value comes from his on base skills, but he probably will be highly overpaid by the end of his deal.

    • @ToddAlmighty: I think the Pirates over-performed last year, and I still like the Reds better on paper. But the Cardinals were obviously more talented last year, and have probably improved this offseason.

  29. From what I read, it doesn’t sound like too many on this board are convinced the Reds are going to change their offensive approach too much.

    We keep trying to stuff a square peg into a round hole without considering that Price’s overall approach could be radically different from what we have seen.

    What is that approach? If the answer is, meet the new boss, same as the old boss … then why are we so giddy that Dusty is gone?

    • @Johnu1: I already know that there will be significant changes in the bullpen.

      Chapman will get more than 60 innings. He will pitch in innings other than those beginning with a 9.

      I think this approach will be used with all the bullpen. For instance, when Sam or Simon are clicking, why burn another pitcher so that you can follow a formula created in 1980 on how the bullpen is to be used.

      Why bring Chapman in the 9th when hoover has just blown away the side in the 8th?

      If he follows that logic with the pen, he will also be active with the starting 8.

    • @Johnu1: No, it’s not that we’re not considering it, it’s that at least I am not willing to go into the season thinking that’s enough.

      I believe that Price will be a better manager than Dusty. I believe that this will have a positive effect on the number of wins that the Reds get.

      But we’re losing a 5 win outfielder and finished 7 games back last year. I know it’s not so simple as to say we need to make up exactly 12 wins, but that’s a pretty reasonable ballpark to me. Some of that will come from improved performances etc, and I think we can count on Price to close the gap some more.

      But the Reds needed to make a big addition this offseason if they wanted to be considered World Series contenders on paper, and they haven’t done it.

      • @al: Just to play with numbers, is Price worth 3 wins? Hard to say. If so, and Choo costs us 5, we’re minus-2. Is Mesoraco worth a win?

        Improved output from LF … is that possible? Probably. Maybe break even.

        Hamilton is worth a win IF he can get on base at any kind of rate. Or more.

        I guess, where I’m at here, is that I think we’re assuming this team isn’t healthy enough to make a run at it as it stands. Could be, that’s true.

        I also don’t believe that St. Louis is a 97-win team and I KNOW the Parrots are not a 94-win team.

        If the Reds are still a 90-win team, remains to be seen. I thought Cincy was dreadfully uninteresting most of the 2013 season. If nothing else happens, I hope they are just more inspired.

        That ought to count for something. Don’t know what the metric for “fun” is this year.

        I agree that talk about upgrades is fun. I just get lost in the “contracts” of it all.

        • @Johnu1: I’m with you all the way that I expect the 2014 Reds to be a lot more fun that the 2013 vintage, and once the games start being played and injuries etc change the landscape, “on paper” doesn’t really mean squat. A hot 8 game winning streak in the middle of the season can mean the difference of winning the division or not in the end.

          And yes, I would probably put the Dustytax at about 3 games, and if Price works some extra magic with the bullpen, maybe that by itself will offset the loss of Choo.

          But then there you are, still looking up at a clearly more talented Cardinals team.

          A fully healthy Votto, a breakout year from Mesoraco, a revived Ludwick, a ROY Hamilton… these are obviously the things we’d be hoping for to bridge that gap, but those are the things that every team can hope for.

          Right now, I’d like to see the front office doing more to improve the team on paper, to give us the best shot possible next year.

    • @Johnu1: Why we are giddy that Dusty is gone:
      No longer bunting nonstop.
      Not always using his WORST PHs first.
      Not trying to put Cozart batting 2nd because he’s a SS or Ludwick 4th because he’s a LF.
      Keeping his players from interrupting his press conference to spew obscenities on camera.
      No longer having ridiculous assigned roles in the bullpen where your best pitcher only throws like 67 innings, and only a few are actual high leverage situations.
      Able to deviate from “The Book”.
      Maybe will actually yell at a ref now when they’re being atrocious rather than just chew on a toothpick.
      No more “Played with Hank Aaron” stories.

      ….anyone else feel free to add to that list.

      • @ToddAlmighty: You are so right, and that should be worth a few wins in and of itself. I must admit, though, your post made me realize that I’m going to miss not using the ‘Hank Aaron’ reference two or three times during the game threads….

        • @preach: I was hoping to not have to assert that wasn’t really the point I was making. Another Dusty bashing isn’t productive. What I did posit was why do we keep trying to stuff the same square peg into the same round hole? We keep going on about needing a CF who can lead off. Why does our CF have to lead off? We keep scraping around at every roster thinking we can trade this guy and that guy and get this guy and this prospect … we have a new manager and a whole new set of coaches.

          Why can’t this team compete? I don’t think Hank Aaron stories are a factor, but if we want to go over the reasons why Dusty failed, I guess another thread wouldn’t hurt.

          I really was after something that suggests the new coaching staff will make a difference.

          Sadly, we don’t know anything about that either, do we?

          • @Johnu1: I would have to agree with you. We don’t have proof that the entire new coaching staff will/can make a difference next year.

      • @ToddAlmighty: Oh, I nearly forgot two more. Very important:

        -No longer letting opponents go against the entire B Team on Sundays. (Izturis/Hannahan/Paul/Miller all starting on the same day.)
        -Not putting Ondrusek/Partch/other bad relief pitcher in as soon as the team goes down 3 runs, to concede the game.

        Those two alone have to be worth a couple wins.

        • @ToddAlmighty: Well, can’t go much farther with that train of thought if you intend to make a mockery out of it. So much for that.

          • @Johnu1: Your post about another Dusty bashing not being productive and then leading to another train of thought was 2 minutes *after* my second post. It wasn’t me reading your second post and then continuing anyway, it was simply your second post being submitted later (albiet higher) than my second post.

      • @ToddAlmighty: Not to burst your “Dusty is gone bubble but…:

        – We don’t know how much Price will bunt. Probably not as much as Dusty but we don’t know.
        – PH use really depends on the situation. You don’t always hit your best first. Dusty seemed to try to save his best for a situation where he could drive in some runs. That’s not all bad. Burning him in the 6th inning to hit for the pitcher with 2 outs and none on is not good strategy.
        – We don’t know where he’s going to hit Cozart but I bet Ludwick gets ABs in the 4 hole and it wouldn’t shock me if Cozart gets some ABs in the 2 hole. We can hope he won’t be afraid to go Votto/Bruce in the order but we don’t know.
        – He probably will have assigned roles in the bullpen. A lot of managers and pitching coaches do. From what he and others have said, we can assume he won’t be quite as tied to those roles as Dusty was however.
        – I think Price will deviate from “the book” more often than Dusty. We got that going for us.
        – I’m not sure arguing with umpires is going to help. Arguing excessively a la Bobby Cox, Sweet Lou, or Earl Weaver is probably a bad thing. If you pick your battles, you may end up getting a call somewhere down the line and your players will know you have their backs. I hope Price picks his battles but argues calls a bit more often than Dusty.
        – I’m with Preach in that I’m going to miss the “Played with Hank Aaron” stories.

        I think Price will be a net gain but how much of a net gain remains to be seen.

        • @LWBlogger: Glad you made these points. I’ve never believed that the manager makes much difference, and a lot of the complaints about Dusty are speculative. The Reds were frustrating, but they won 90+ games with him, and I don’t believe that they were better than that with ANYBODY managing.

  30. We keep going on about needing a CF who can lead off. Why does our CF have to lead off?

    This is the factor that has much of the Nation, including myself, squirming in their off season. In fact, no one is suggesting the Reds’ CF must lead off, but everyone recognizes that the Reds have no leadoff hitter on the roster going into 2014. This was a lang-standing problem that was finally addressed in 2013 and we are now looking at the same problem a year later. By coincidence the Reds also have no one playing CF going into 2014.

    The Reds have three middle of the order hitters on the roster: Votto, Bruce & Ludwick. The Reds have four bottom of the order hitters on the roster: Frazier, Mesoraco, Phillips & Cozart. The Reds have one unfilled position: CF. The Reds have no top of the order hitters and that’s a big problem.

    The Old Cossack is excited about the 2014 season, but apprehensive that the roster holes could sink the Reds’ chances for success in 2014…something about that darn weakest link theory.

    Votto will come back to full health and full production in 2014. Votto and Bruce will hit back to back, creating a true, if abbreviated, murderers row with Bruce having his finest season yet.

    I hope Frazier will find some consistency and plate discipline, but I have my concerns. I hope Ludwick will regain full strength and power with a hunger and a productive hitting stroke, but I have my concerns. I hope Phillips proves the critics wrong by maintaining a strong offensive performance for the entire season, but I have my concerns.

    I do believe Mesoraco will excel by playing on a regular basis and deliver to the promise of his prospect status. I do believe that Cozart has found a home in the 7th or 8th hole and will continue his strong performance from the later portion of 2013.

    I do believe the manager and coaching staff grounded in excellent communication and consistent accountability combined with a strong work ethic will succeed and prosper as they gain experience and maturity within their new roles.

    Then we have those blasted #1 and #2 hole hitters MIA. Yes, that’s a problem that could take the ship down.

    • @Shchi Cossack: Walt knew when he got Choo that it was a year rental and that he would be replaced in 2014.

      Ludwick shattered his shoulder on opening day and there’s lots of evidence to suggest bad shoulders diminish power.

      Two problems on APRIL 1 that were obvious.

      So we didn’t fix those problems last summer when it was easier. Still haven’t.

      I’d rather finish 3rd with Billy Hamilton than with Skip Schumaker. I want to see Price make a noise, not be just another old stick-in-the-mud telling us “he’s not ready yet.”

      Let’s use our players, our talent and take some lumps. Trading for Brett Gardner is another yawner of a summer. Please, can we just stop trading for spare parts outfielders?

      • @Johnu1: I agree with pretty much everything except your assessment of Gardner. In what way would acquiring him be boring? He’s a plus defender in CF with good speed and on-base skills. He has some gap power too. I am not sure that I would trade Phillips for him unless I have a replacement in mind for 2B who could give me something close to what BP gives me but Gardner would be an upgrade over Hamilton, at least in 2014.

        • @LWBlogger: The point would be that trading for one year of Gardner–trading a talented player, certainly–only makes sense if it seems clear that he could put us over the top in 2014. I think that we are more than one player away from being a real factor, unless the Cossack’s holiday season wishes all come true.

    • @Shchi Cossack: I’m hopeful that a move to strengthen the team will be made. But I do think:

      1) Mesoraco’s addition to the everyday lineup will be a boost.
      2) Frazier’s BABIP fell too low in 2013. He’ll find his way to somewhere in between ’12 and ’13.
      3) Cozart had a very strong end to 2013. If memory serves, his BABIP was very low early in the season.
      4) Votto returns to full-form health.

      And I’m just keeping my fingers crossed on Ludwick.

      But that said, if they’re not going to improve the offense, I think it’s hard to trade away one of you more dominant pitchers and still be competitive next season. Reds have some pretty tough strategic decisions when it comes to 2014 versus beyond.

  31. Looks like Walt has already settled in for “a long Winter’s nap”.

  32. I think everyone is forgetting about the fact that Chris Heisey is going to have a breakout year of historic proportions. He may even win the MVP. duh

  33. An old high school friend of mine works for the Royals. We don’t talk much, but we happened to meet up over thanksgiving. He tells me the Reds and Red Sox are working on a Ryan Ludwick for Will Middlebrooks trade. I can’t find even a sniff of anything on it, other than middlebrooks might be on the block. It does make the mind crank out some ideas though. If they make the move, does Frazier move to left? or is it to clear money to go after kemp? is Frazier on the block? Perhaps Frazier and chapman to Florida for stanton?

    • @bart756: Middlebrooks is an inferior hitter (he has a career 2.2 oWAR in 169 games, Frazier had 2.3 oWAR last year in 150 games) and far inferior fielder (career -0.7 dWAR to Frazier’s 0.7 dWAR last season).

      I feel like moving Frazier out of his position and into LF so you can put an inferior glove and bat at 3rd is a bad move twice over.

      Middlebrooks career slash: .254/.294/.462
      Heisey’s career slash: .254/.308/.433

      You’d probably come out on top just playing Heisey in LF and Frazier at 3B rather than take Frazier’s great glove away from 3rd and put in Middlebrooks who actually had negative WAR last season.

      • @ToddAlmighty: Agree completely.

      • @ToddAlmighty: I don’t really put much stock into random trade rumors, but I’d take almost anything to clear some of the deadweight payroll we have, if it meant we could set up other moves via trade/free agency.

      • @ToddAlmighty: If you are going to make such an assertion and then use stats to support your position, you should know the importance of small sample size.

        30 points from Gryffyndor.

  34. That last door to trade Phillips has closed.

    The Yankees have signed Brian Roberts.

    Unless someone else can think of a team that would want him.

    • @rfay00: I love Brian Roberts but if he plays more than 140 games this year, I’ll eat liver and onions.

    • @rfay00: The Yankees door has been closing for a while. They’re on Brandon’s no trade clause, he would want more money to approve a trade and his contract was already a hinderance (even to the Yankees). They weren’t going to trade Gardner, and have no one else we’d really want. It would have had to been a three team trade anyway.

      The Braves, Jays, and maybe the Dodgers are still on the table I guess. But it appears more and more like no one around the league wants Phillips.

  35. Blue Jays wouldn’t mind an upgrade at 2B

  36. Just because teams appear to be set at a position doesn’t mean they won’t move a player to upgrade elsewhere. EG: The Cubs could trade Barney and Samardjiza for a 3B and suddenly have a spot at 2B.

  37. What team does this describe?
    “They have made the playoffs in three of the last four seasons but failed to advance in any of those years and their cumulative game record was 2-7.”
    “If this will be the extent of the team’s winter, it’s clear what the team’s mindset is: Cross their fingers and hope everybody from last year gets better. So far, not much to get excited about.”

    The Braves. Reds aren’t the only ones being quiet this winter so far.
    From yesterday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Braves fans not happy losing McCann and Hudson and the Braves GM going on the cheap.
    It sure popped my bubble on the BP to the Braves scenario. May be another window of opportunity that has closed.

  38. The Reds have a lead off hitter. His name is Brandon Phillips. He scored 100 runs in 2010 and 94 in 2011 when his OBP was 332 and 353. The guy hits where you ask him to. I think he did a good job last year driving in runs. he is capable of leading off and with the team as it is set now would have him in lead off.

    love him or hate him, Brandon Phillips is a great fielder and a good, albeit inconsistent offensive player. However, we have seen him bat 1, 2 and 4 in his time in with the Reds. We have never had to hit him 7th or 8th. and many fans still love him. I like him best in the 2 hole, but we have not seen him there much in his time with the Reds.

    I am fine to go to war with the team we have and can see us winning 90-95 games depending on health. I see a healthy Johnny Cueto and Cingrani is an upgrade over Bronson. That is some very good starts that we did not have last year.
    If Broxton and Marshall come back to what their baseball card is, our bull pen is stacked.

    I am OK with Heisey to begin the season in a platoon with Shumaker. I am OK with Hamilton starting at AAA if need be. I am sure that Ryan Ludwick will not slide head first again and will be an improvement over 2013. I see Super Todd much closer to 2012 than 2013, and Devin will hit over 250 and be an upgrade at catcher.

    that is the thing with young players and those coming back from injury, there is uncertainty. I can see Walt adding a good spare part or 2 before the season begins, and I do not want to see him resign Choo at 7 years with the talent we have coming in the outfield. I am fine in 2014 for this team to go to war with Choo.

    Shumaker/Heisey
    Phillips
    Votto
    Bruce
    Ludwick
    Fraiser
    Mesoraco
    Cozart

    I can play with that lineup, knowing that Hamilton is coming one day. Maybe day one, maybe July 1. This line up will have to learn how to play team ball and not all be swinging for the fences. Teach them to become a first to third machine. That is the thing about GABP, just play ball and home runs will come.

    When the Billy Show does hit the big time, he alone can change this lineup. Yes he needs to be ready, but I hate the idea that we have to make some sort of trade just to compete. We can compete with this team.

    A new attitude for the players will be very apparent from day one. There is no WAR rating for that

    • @reaganspad: “I am fine in 2014 for this team to go to war with Choo.” Should be without Choo. I have moved on. I like Choo but he is too expensive and I am looking forward to Ervin in his spot very soon. Ervin is a talent that can move very quickly also.

      I really like it when our developed talent comes to the big club.

  39. I saw Heyman and Rosenthal on the MLB Network on Monday. Unsure how much stock to put in this, but Heyman seemed shocked that people would assume the Reds are not in the running to re-sign Choo. He says the opposite, that the Reds are very much a player there.

    • @vegastypo: I don’t like it if it’s on a 6-7 year deal.

    • @vegastypo: I’ve been sort of figuring the same thing, since he hasn’t signed and the list of teams looking to sign him is getting smaller. It wouldn’t surprise me.

    • @vegastypo: It is Bob’s money. Sign him. I’ll co-sign.

      • @RedLeg75: My question though is about 2015. Would you rather have Choo at $17.0 mil or Ervin who puts up the same numbers for the major league minimum?

        I can see Ervin be a 20 steal, 20 HR guy who has a 380 obp. He has great discipline.

        No to Choo, unless it is for 1 year and 22.0 mil “ish” I will overpay for him for 1 year.

        Michael Bourne anyone?

        • @reaganspad: Bingo. . . There is outfield help coming. Choo’s 2013 was excellent. However, he cannot hit LHPs and his performance is bound to regress (both due to age and also to unsustainable HBP numbers, which propped up his OBP a bit). I like Choo and he will get paid. I just hope that Bob does not pony up the dough for what would likely be an ugly contract after a couple of years.

          Also, let us not forget that it costs more than just money to sign Choo. The Reds will get a pretty solid pick if he signs elsewhere. For a team like the Reds, these picks are gold. This is another reason why I was hoping (apparently against hope) that Walt would swing a deal for Gardner. He could fill a spot in the OF for now and, if he did well enough, may even warrant a QO after the season (and another pick for the good guys).

          • @Drew Mac: I also think it’s fair to assume that the farm system can be upgraded in the conventional way without having to pony up talent in hopes of getting additional picks.

            Playing for the future is fine, to a point, and all teams have to do that. But Cincy needs to maintain the pace it’s on, which means not playing for next year. The fan base is too impatient for that, and there’s good reason for it. Box office gains is turf that was hard-earned.

            To some end, Price is in a tougher spot than Dusty was, since Price is expected to get it done with one less weapon.

            I suppose, if anything, I wonder if Banana Bob and WJ are on the same page with Price about how practical that is.

  40. Could the Reds be interested in free agent 2B/3B Jeff Baker? Played at TEX last year. Had a line of .279/.360/.545 and 11 HR’s in 174 PA’s. Has versatility. He played 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, and RF. He looks to be a good defender. The minus is he will be 33 next June. He could be an immense upgrade over Hannahan and has that pop, good for off the bench. Say goodbye Hannahan and hello Baker?

    • @WVRedlegs: Sounds like the role Schumaker was signed for. He’d need to be able to play SS and I don’t think he has that kind of range.

      • @eric nyc:

        Shoemaker took XPaul’s spot. I am proposing that Baker take Hannahan’s spot.
        Shoemaker is LH hitter. Hits RHP well.
        Baker is RH hitter. Blisters LHP well. Reds need more RH bats that blister LHP.
        Hannahan is LH hitter. He is average vs. RHP and is brutal vs. LHP. I think the Reds could include Hannahan as part of a trade, or eat his $1M salary if have to for this kind of upgrade.

        • @WVRedlegs: I’m looking forward to a Baker free Reds club. Bring in Butchers and Candlestick Makers if you must.

          • @TC:

            I feel your pain on Baker. Maybe we can change his name. Check out Baker’s 9th inning at-bat last year in a game in June vs. the Indians reliever Vinnie Pestano. Baker got behind 0-2 and then worked a 15 pitch at-bat. Though the at-bat produced an out, that is something the Reds lacked in their pinch-hitters.
            THIS Baker would be a nice addition to the bench and has nice versatility. It would be a huge upgrade over Hannahan.

    • @WVRedlegs: I agree that Hannahan is a spot that we should look to upgrade. He was signed for his glove and to be able to pinch hit. He did neither well in 2013. The 3 error game was brutal

  41. So does the Brian Roberts signing officially kill the Phillips to Yankees rumor mill?

    • @eric nyc: I think the limited no trade clause that included the Yankees has killed this deal. No way that any team acquiring Phillips will renegotiate with him and raise his cost when we all believe his contract is too big today.

      If his contract was a bargain, he would already have been dealt

      • @reaganspad: There were still some rumblings. Fay suggested that another piece or two might have gotten the deal done and a phone call from Derek Jeter could have probably gotten BP to lift the no trade clause. But it seems dead now.

    • @eric nyc: One wonders who is going to play 2B for the Orioles. Of course, Baltimore is not exactly a big spender.

  42. If Chapman remains on the Reds, and if Chapman remains as the closer, and if Chapman is going to be used differently as has been hinted, more noteably in the 8th inning for 4,5 and 6 out saves, could this affect the way the roster is built?
    My question would be, would this allow the Reds to carry 6 relievers and then have an extra bench player? Or at the very least give the Reds the flexibility to do so during the season. They could stack the bench or bullpen in preparation for one of those 20 games in 21 days spells that they get 2-3 times a year.
    With Dusty Baker it was usually 7 relievers and 5 bench guys, and very rarely deviated from that formula.

    • @WVRedlegs: I always thought DB had one too many relief pitchers and never seemed to have the right kind of bench.

      • @Johnu1: @WVRedlegs: That is a really good point WVRedlegs and Johnu1. Dusty through his superior handling of the pen needed the extra reliever.

        adding a catcher (3) would have helped as we could have pinch hit Devin a lot last year.

      • @Johnu1: Gotta find SOME way to keep Ondrusek on the major league roster afterall. Can’t coach tall.

    • @WVRedlegs: They may be able to get away with it from time to time but for the most part, teams carry 7 relievers these days.

  43. So the report/rumor that Arroyo was heading to SF is false?

    • @santa barbara reds fan: I hadn’t heard that one, although at the start of the off-season, I would have thought it made a lot of sense. … But the Giants re-signed Voglesong and brought in Hudson to go with Cain, Bumgarner and Lincecum, so I’d wonder about their need for Bronson now.

      • @vegastypo: there was some talk among Giants fans out here in California about two weeks ago… But your points are well taken about SF’s pitching.

  44. Gutierrez resigned with the M’s. Thought he’d be a good low-cost solution to CF if we weren’t getting one through trade. Another off the board.

    This offseason has been pretty depressing this year outside of the getting rid of Dusty. No takers for Phillips and we’ve really botched that whole process up in the media. No extension for Bailey. No improvement to the starting line up. No CF’er. I still think we need significant offensive improvements to compete. And the Cards just keep getting better. Ugh.

    • @hotto4votto: I was of the belief that the biggest change we wanted was a different dugout philosophy. You don’t seem too impressed with that.

      • @Johnu1: Not when we lose Choo and make a butchery of the Phillips saga, and one of our best arms declares he won’t start. Maybe the club house will be better, but we will have less talent.

    • Gutierrez resigned with the M’s. Thought he’d be a good low-cost solution to CF if we weren’t getting one through trade. Another off the board. This offseason has been pretty depressing this year outside of the getting rid of Dusty. No takers for Phillips and we’ve really botched that whole process up in the media. No extension for Bailey. No improvement to the starting line up. No CF’er. I still think we need significant offensive improvements to compete. And the Cards just keep getting better. Ugh.

      How have the Cards gotten better?

  45. A lot of transactions don’t make headlines. Here are a few that I noticed this morning.

    Phil Irwin changed number to 46.
    Andy Oliver changed number to 52.
    Tony Sanchez changed number to 26.

  46. Boston DFA’d OF Alex Castellanos on 12/12/13. The Sox have 4 days left to do something with him. C’mon Walt, this would be an upgrade over Heisey and a $1.1M savings. And Heisey usually has his 6-8 week stint(s) annually on the DL. Even if you keep Heisey, Castellanos would be excellent AAA OF depth. C’mon Walt, we want an improved Reds team, not the staus quo of standing pat.

    • @WVRedlegs: Good call WVRedlegs

      guy looks like great depth for AAA. hard to know how he projects at the ML level, but he has done a great job in AAA

  47. Crickets…

    I’m just waiting for that deal to happen.

  48. Those saying that the Cards keep getting better are making assumptions that I do not think you can make anymore than the Reds will be worse. Lets look at some things. The Reds as it stands right now are better at 1st, 2nd, SS (unless you think Peralta is a better fielder than Cozart), I would call 3b as toss up as I think Frazier is a better fielder. LF, Holiday is one year older and more injury prone(and brutal defensive player), so will there be that much difference? They have a CF, but the Reds have the advantage in RF. Catcher speaks for itself. The Cards are about the same as the Cards in starters, but they used a lot of guys in their bullpen. Do you know what you will be getting from your pen this year? The Reds do, but do the Cards? They go through closers pretty frequently. One year they are good, the next they are brutal and go somewhere else. The Cardinals won last year by hitting at historic rates with runners in scoring position, any bets on them doing that this year? Finally, the Reds underachieved last year and the Cards overachieved, I think this year it evens out a bit.

    • @redmountain: I certainly agree with you that despair about the Cards’ improvement is premature, but I disagree that the Reds underachieved. Look at the lineup objectively (I mean the players and their hitting ability, not the order in which they took their frequently futile hacks): If it weren’t for usually good pitching, the Reds would have been worse than they were.

      • @greenmtred: I think the Reds were horrible in scoring runs with runners on base in 2013 versus 2012. The Cards of 2013 were the Reds 2012. They hit like 900 with runners on and 2 outs. We had some of that in 2012

        I do agree that our pitching was the strength of the team the past few years.

        Looking forward to some Price accountability on the rest of the team as we were a better team than we showed in 2013

  49. Cincy beat writers asleep at the wheel again. From Yahoo Sports, about Choo:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/report-choo-dismissed-offer-yankees-182801796–mlb.html

    Looks like Boras really messed up for Choo. Might be good for the Reds. Its an interesting story on the timing of it all.

    • @WVRedlegs: Wow, he reportedly turned down 7yrs/$140-million? That wasn’t smart at all. That’s above the “high” estimates that were being tossed around for Choo. No wonder the Reds have been pretty much out. I like Choo, but I was thinking along the lines of 5yrs/$90-million would be what needed to get it done.

    • @WVRedlegs: It makes my stomach turn to think that the Bankees made that offer to Choo AFTER they signed Ellsbury. Must be nice to have that kind of money to bulk up the outfield.

      I had the feeling earlier that Boras was mis-playing Choo. I thought that last year as well and it played well for us. I know about his deficiencies, but I love me some Sin Soo Choo.

  50. Well, well…Drew Stubbs will roam CF at Coors Field in 2014. Good deal for the Rox but it looks like Stubbs will still fill a 4th/5th OF role for the Rox.

  51. PS the managing change in Cincy will be worth a few more wins. Just like the Reds do not know what they might get if Hamilton plays, the Cards do not know what Wong will give them.

  52. It’s close to Christmas, so best yuletide wishes to all of you. In the spirit of the season, I point out the following, apropos the cost of mlb contracts: If all of the 1000 Bangledeshi garment workers killed in the factory collapse had lived and worked for another 25 years, they would, collectively, have made less than R. Cano will in 2014.

  53. Just throwing this out there; the Reds were able to go to a certain point with Choo. He turned them down; could they reallocate the money and go after Masahiro Tanaka instead? Everything I’ve seen about him makes him out to be a future star. Sure, it’s risky, but so was the Chapman signing and that at least got us an “electrifying” closer and trade chip (not going into anything more there).

  54. From Sheldon’s report on mlb.com…

    New Reds manager Bryan Price has yet to divulge what his 2014 lineup might look like, but it’s possible that Mesoraco could have a higher profile. After he batted mostly seventh or eighth the past two seasons, he might shift closer to the middle of the order

    “That’s what we anticipated with Devin as he was progressing through the system,” Price said. “I think with Devin, [he had] a very pull-oriented approach. As a younger guy coming up through the system, he had a lot power to right-center. I’d like to see him revisit that.”

    You gotta like hearing that comment from the old pitching coach turned manager!

    • @Shchi Cossack: Bam! the Old Cossack knows that of which he texts about.

      All the Reds hitters are better when they go the other way. Jay Bruce emerged last year hitting to left field.

      One thing Phillips does well is go to right field. If Frasier can stay back and go the other way, it will raise his average 30 points also from last year.

      You do not need to pull the ball in GABP

    • @Shchi Cossack:

      I like hearing that. I think Mes starts out in the 6 hole, maybe #5 if Bruce bats 4th.

      But make no mistake, the Reds 40-man roster, let alone the 25-man roster, with the exception of Bruce, does not have a legit #4 hitter as it is currently constructed.
      The acquistion of that #4 hitter to give Votto protection in the lineup has been fumbled horrendously by Jocketty, the Castellinis, and the entire front office this winter.

  55. From what I was reading, it looks like Choo might have missed his turn at the Yankees 100+ million slot machine.

    It will be interesting to see how that shakes out.

    One that that I notice, there just isn’t that many big bats coming to market anymore. It seems that the draft and player development for the greater portion of MLB is really the only place to make a big move towards improving your club.

    • @earl: This smells a lot more like Houston than New York to me.

    • @earl: Maybe Choo will take less money because he really doesn’t want to go to NY. He’s spent most of his MLB career in Ohio. Not that he may take a lot less, but if he doesn’t want to go, than ask for a huge figure. The coasts aren’t for everyone.

      • @preach: I was thinking the same thing. Lots of money, but lots of pressure. (and lots of Koreans. He’d have no personal life.)

  56. The Old Cossack understands the arguments against commiting $100MM+ to an OF entering his age 32 season, but Choo is a truly unique talent that just isn’t available under normal circumstances. I don’t think the Reds can afford to miss out on Choo for any reasonable amount.

    Phillip Ervin is a talented prospect with big upside potential. In his only season of pro ball, Ervin slashed .331/.425/.564. He is entering his age 22 season but he hasn’t played a single inning above A- ball and only has 12 games at the A- level. I would be cautious about declaring him major league ready to start in GABP by 2015.

    Yorman Rodriguez made significant improvement during 2013 (finally!), but in a half season at AA, Yorman produced a .714 OPS. Yorman is entering his age 22 season also and is still developing. He’s a real stretch to be major league ready to start in GABP by 2015 or even 2016.

    Jesse Winker continued to mash the ball by following up his .943 OPS from 2012 in ROK ball with a very solid .841 OPS in A- ball. Winker is entering his age 21 season and has not played an inning above A- level. I can see him being major league ready by 2016 if he continues with his superb development, but he is still young and raw and more likely major league ready by 2017.

    Then we have Billy Hamilton who still hasn’t produced consistently at the AAA level yet and is entering his age 24 season.

    The chance of Hamilton or Ervin being ready to make a serious impact playing CF in GABP at the major league level in 2015 is very good, but the chance of both being major league impact ready by 2015 is still pretty shaky.

    That makes 2016 or 2017 realistic timeframes for some serious OF crowding with emerging talent available and Bruce becme a FA in 2018. The Reds may also be looking for young talent at 3B, SS and starting pitching during the same timeframe. The minor league options for Ervin, Rodriguez and Winker will take care of any need to promote until the player and the Reds are ready in 2018.

    What about a compromise with a 5 year guaranteed contract for Choo at $18MM per with 2 club/vesting options following the 5 guaranteed years, also at $18MM per? The vesting could be something like 600PA & .800 OPS for the prior season with a $5MM buyout if the club doesn’t exercise the option. That gives Choo the big bucks and offers the Reds some relief if Choo regresses significantly or suffers a serious injury.

    • @Shchi Cossack: I agree wholeheartedly with this. I’m not really sure how ‘can’t miss’ any prospects are, much less guys who have struggled. Choo is not a speed guy, and his defense comes from a strong arm. I think he will age pretty well. He’s established and seems to do OK in Cinci. While 5 years from now he may have a regression that will spell some trouble, I think he’s the best shot we have at winning in the near future.

      • @preach: Contending for the near future is as important as 2017, IMO. Dropping back into mediocrity will set the franchise back more than it would cost to spend the extra on Choo.

        • @Johnu1: Agreed. I also think that the front office needs to give Price all the parts necessary to win right now. The name recognition that Choo has helps provide that. This is important even if you could possibly find other avenues that can produce close to the numbers that the name players can. Call it what you want, but there is some pressure to win right now and there has to be a move to support Price by bringing in the perceived best possible.

          • @preach: Nice analysis you old Cossack you. I agree that you can never count on a player until they have done it at the ML level.

            Chris Heisey was a player who looked a lot like the trinkets that we have in the minors. He has never learned to adjust at the ML level. Heisey is another player who needs to discover Right Field and when he does, he will hit better. Now ML pitchers know that he will pull so they pitch him that way. And Heisey swings for the fences.

            If Ervin and Hamilton come to the ML and try to hit like Heisey does and pull the ball to Left Field only, they will fail.

            Walk to Strike out is a big deal for me. Ervin played ball in a major conference in college and is breezing through the minors because they probably started him too low given his talent. But he is on a rocket through the system. Mike Leake went from ASU to the Reds. Big time college players can easily do this these days.

            It would not surprise me to see Ervin in the show in 2014. Maybe not out of camp, he is not an 18 year old kid we are talking about who needs to grow into his body. He is much more like Leake.

            now Hamilton might be me more on the hope side, but I FEEL like he will be ready in 2014 at some point.

            So based on that, I say keep your powder dry Walt. We we have Pitching to pay for soon

            I am fine with Choo for one year and $22.0-25.0 mil. Shoot, we have a need for 1 year. Pay him above market for one year, something that he will not turn down (once his market floats all the way to the bottom)

            make it hard for him to say no for one year.

            I am just not a fan of him for 5-7 years in a Reds uniform. I like Brandon Phillips current contract more than that one

          • @reaganspad: This is the most optimistic post about a Reds prospect I may have ever seen.

            You’re talking about a 20 year old with 200 total plate appearances, most of them in rookie ball. He “breezed” through the minors by going up one level and getting into 12 games.

            I would be pretty shocked if Ervin started at high-A this year, since he only played 12 games at Dayton. But, even if they did decide to just promote him, he needs a lot of ABs. If they started him at high-A and then promoted him to AA in the same season, then he would be officially “rocketing” through the system.

            And that only has him getting to AA.

            Only a minor miracle or total disaster will have Ervin anywhere near the Reds this year. If I had to guess, I would say they are hoping he gets to high-A this year, and can start in AA next year. Then, if everything goes well, he could possibly be a mid-season call up in 2016.

          • @al: you say that as though he came straight from High School. If he had, I would tend to agree with your assessment.

            Major college baseball is not high school. We draft college athletes to get them to the bigs sooner.

            If it takes Ervin 2 and 1/2 more years before he is ready for the bigs then we made a mistake.

            he is 22 in July

            Robert Stephenson will be 21 in February and will hit the big club this year

          • @reaganspad: There are contractual reasons to not move too fast on a guy who might not be ready. The so-called arbitration clock, and all that.

          • @Johnu1: I get that John. And I do not want to see them move someone faster than they can handle. But some guys can jump from AA to the Majors like Sir Albert. My point is that college players are much more ready for the ML’s than most fans think because the college game has gotten so much better. When a guy like Leake moves from ASU to the Reds, you know that others are capable of doing that also

            There are also reasons to do that though if they are ready. 20 million of them per year for 7 years of Choo.

            I think the lack of movement by the Reds to date on this is that they are comfortable with the team go forward and will introduce a few kids soon, like the Frazier, Cozart, Mesaraco class

          • @reaganspad: I’m with you generally on this. I think the Reds are too slow moving their players up. All I am suggesting is that the front office sees this differently. If a guy is ready to play, give him a number and a spot on the roster. Piddling around in Pensacola doesn’t get it for me — when we have guys like Izturis and Hannahan taking up spots on the team.

    • @Shchi Cossack: After looking at the potential free agent outfielders or bats in general the next couple of seasons, Choo is about the best of the whole lot.

      I’m not so sure at this point whether betting 5 years on him might be cagier than believed.

      I know I would bet on him more than Ellsbury, straight up as a player. You never know when injuries are going to happen, but all those missed games in the last 2 out of 3 years would have scared me a bit about Ellsbury, but hey, it’s not my money.

      • @earl: Just for giggles, let’s say the Reds lock up Choo on a multi-year contract and ALL of those OF prospects (Hamilton, Ervin, Rodriguez & Winker) pan out even better than hoped as they reach major-league readiness. The Reds are stocked with an OF to fill any role another club needs and WJ can just let the phone ring until he feels like answering it. WJ’s opening comment on each call will be, “I want your best young starter with at least 4 years of team control.”

  57. Looks more and more like a starting pitcher will be getting dealt as we aquire more sp depth.

  58. Reds have signed Wang to a minor league contract and spring invite. Nice.

    • @Matt WI: WJ seems to be adding starting pitching depth, with this signing and the mulling of another year for Arroyo. Could he be considering trading Homer? We can’t afford to resign Homer for 2015, as well as Latos, Cueto, and Leake for 2016.

      Homer for a bat and a high end pitching prospect? Sign one of the remaining 3 (preferably Latos) and have a 2016 rotation like this?

      Latos
      Stephenson
      High end prospect rec’d for Homer
      Holmberg
      Travieso or Contreras ???

      Just when it seemed like we had pitching depth …

      • @earmbrister: Crap, forget Cingrani.

        Take 2:

        Latos
        Cingrani
        Stephenson
        High end prospect rec’d for Homer
        Holmberg,Travieso, or Contreras ???

        Well, that looks a good deal better.

        • @earmbrister: You beat me to correcting you about forgetting Cingrani. If Cingrani can develop a legit 3rd pitch I think he can be better than Homer and be at least as good as Cueto and Latos. I don’t really know about any of the other guys, but if we can keep Latos and Cingrani can continue to develop, then that will be a pretty good top of the rotation.

      • @earmbrister: If Arroyo comes into the fold, you’d think that really would signal Leake or Homer being very tradeable. Maybe Walt has some contingency trades lined up if things fall in place.

        And, depending on how the season goes (presumably) without Choo and somehow the team is out of serious contention, Homer may still be a mercenary trade in July for a pretty penny.

        • @Matt WI: I think Leake is the most expendable right now, but I don’t think he’d bring enough to really impact the team immediately and I think that’s why the Homer trade ideas are being talked about.

          • @DevAJS: I’d sell all kinds of high on Leake. There’s fair reason to believe he’ll never have as good as a year again.

        • @Matt WI: If you trade Bailey, you save $9 Mil upfront, less what you pay the players in return. That’s about half a Choo (bless me) for 2014. Ludwick coming off payroll and Hamilton coming on is half a Choo in 2015. Broxton coming off in 2016 is yet another half a Choo. Of course, no one else’s salary will be going up in the meantime (lol), but you get the idea.

          If Bailey is traded for 2 high end, low cost prospects, can the Reds afford to resign Choo?

          • @earmbrister: I don’t think so… it’s a years issue. If they were talking 2-3yrs of paying Choo, that’s one thing. But if Boras is sticking to his guns on 6 or 7, then it would really knock me over to see the Reds pull it off. Seems like if you have Boras as your agent, you’re not really the “hometown discount” kind of guy in the first place.

          • @Matt WI: Yeah, I really like the idea of Choo for the next couple of years, but not for 6 or 7. The Reds are really in an odd position where there is just a bit of a gap until the next group of players is ready for primetime. That’s why even a 1-3 year deal for Choo would be perfect as would a 1 or 2 year deal for Arroyo. As you said, that just doesn’t seem likely though as both are probably looking for the last contract of their careers.

          • @Matt WI: After 4 years, Cousin Brucie will be leaving for free agency (can’t imagine the Reds affording another extension), so years # 5, #6 + will be more affordable. Of course, this is under Master Cossack’s contract structuring of about $ 18 Mil per, which seems quite reasonable to me (chuckle), and assuming that the Reds are willing to take on the extended injury risk. If the market drys up on Choo, Yanks out, Rangers and Tigers looking iffy, can Choo fall back into our laps? I like a 2015 OF of Choo, Hamilton, and Bruce.

      • @earmbrister: High end starting pitching (i.e. Bailey, Latos, Cueto, Leake) is simply too expensive for small to mid market teams to sign as FA or extend just before FA. I do not see the Reds extending any of their starters so 2016 becomes the critical transition season. Cingrani and Stephenson will certainly be anchors in the 2016 starting rotation, but beyond those two pitchers, the 2016 rotation has some real ❓ that must be filled through top prospect development (Travieso & Holmberg), prospects stepping up and seizing the opportunity (Rogers, Contreras, Smith, Crabbe, etc.) trades, draft or international signings. A severe rebound season by Corcino could help that picture.

        Realistically, the next 2 seasons present the best opportunity to win before the pitching staff must be retooled for 2016.

        • @Shchi Cossack: I totally agree on the expense of pitching in general, but I think the Reds can and will be able to lock up one of their pitchers, and that that one pitcher will be Mat Latos. Based on tweets from his wife, it wouldn’t surprise me if that extension happened this off season actually.

          I’m going to just guess for fun here that it’s a 6 year extension. That would mean that our current starters would would be leaving in:

          Bailey 2014
          Cueto 2015
          Leake 2015
          Cingrani 2018
          Latos 2021

          I assume that we will let Bailey, Cueto, and Leake walk, or at least they should. In 2016, we should have three replacements in the form of: Holmberg, Stephenson, Travieso.

          Again, the question to me is, do the Reds think paying Bailey $9+mil in 2014 is worth it, or should they deal him to make the farm system stronger.

          • @al:

            I agree, indeed. If there is a trade involving BP, Bailey, or Chapman, the Reds will have to get a top young SP back in the deal. Now, they won’t get an Archie Bradley (ARI) type. Most every team holds on to those types. But that is why I keep banging the Alex Wood from ATL drum.

  59. Is the reason that Walt has said the Reds are out on Choo because the Reds do not have the money for that big of a contract or because the current market is over valuing Choo and he will not pay that much for him?

    • @cgramanFC: I’d imagine it’s a bit of both, but mostly the former. Already have Votto and BP to large contracts and significant pitching to lock up too down the line. Only Big Bob knows that the answer is of course.

  60. From a business perspective, winning is having a full stadium, top level ad money and great sponsors. The Cubs are winners, from that perspective.

    From a fan’s perspective, a World Series is going to happen once a decade at best, even for the top teams. For many, it happens once in an adult lifetime.

    So exactly what does the Reds front office see as “winning” with this franchise? If they make the playoffs every year, that’s a win, of sorts. Contending is always better than being 20 games out with 80 to play.

    So … can this team “win” with what they are going to take to camp? I’d say … maybe.

  61. Chien Ming Wang? Really, Walt. You’ve turned this off-season into a Dumpster Diving event. If you’re going to Dumpster Dive, let BP hold your ankles, so you can get down in there where the good stuff is.

  62. former cardinal alert:

    Rick Ankiel: The recent baseball nomad, who has played for five different teams since 2010, has decided he wants to play at least one more season, and is reportedly even “willing to sign a minor league deal with a spring training invite” in order to accomplish his goal, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.

    • @reaganspad: Ankle should become an actor.

    • @reaganspad: Going off of the previous mention of dumpster diving, I say we sign him, or at least invite him to Goodyear. Heck, he could be an option for platooning in the outfield and perhaps he can give us some depth in the pitching department.

  63. Orioles have signed Xavier Paul to a minor league deal with a ST invite. He apparently had a good year at the plate in 2013, but is a below average fielder.

    Rotsa Ruck X

  64. Greg Reynolds skips town, heads for Japan.

  65. He wanted me to come to California to instruct him and be a consultant
    for his films. Tiger Claw is by far the deadliest of the five animals, teaching students
    to strike just like the dreaded tiger. Obviously not to be left behind are his devoted
    comrades, Monkey, Crane, Tigress, Viper and Mantis, together known as The Furious Five.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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