Pitchers and catchers report Friday. The rest of the team reports a week from tomorrow. The first game is a week later, against Cleveland.

Mark Sheldon has an excellent introduction to the Reds spring training. It’s quite comprehensive in discussing the roster, expected lineup, rotation, bullpen. It talks about the players who have left the team and the new arrivals.

Sheldon has this quote from Homer Bailey about Bryan Price:

“Having Bryan here, the things he instilled for our rotation and bullpen — 25 guys need to buy into it,” Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey said. “We need to play the game better. I know where [Price] stands for all of that. It’s definitely so far in the right direction, it’s great. We still have to go out there and win games.”

In case you missed it, Eli Saslow at ESPN ran a fascinating article on Aroldis Chapman and his lifestyle in the off-season.

Sometimes Chapman walks through the quiet halls of his five-bedroom, six-bath mansion and finds himself missing the humble three-room house, with its leaky ceiling and cracked walls, where he grew up — missing the living room crowded with relatives, the friends, noise, gossip, chaos and uncertainty. “There is my life in Cuba and my life in America, the old life and the new life, and almost nothing about them is the same,” he says.

But if Bryan Price isn’t concerned (John Fay) about Chapman, you shouldn’t be.

Joey Votto spent another hour on Lance McAlister’s show last night. Here’s the link to McAlister’s page with the podcast. Wide range of topics covered. Joey isn’t concerned with Chapman’s offseason routine either, other than being envious about the way the Cuban smokes a cigar.

33 Responses

  1. Johnu1

    As much as my fantasy world would dream about Fogerty and his brand new pair of shoes … the snow remains.

    Still, spring training is way too long. I think the hard-core fans all agree with that, though it’s better to have real scrimmages than to continue to debate the Homer Bailey contract soap opera.

    Seems like maybe one roster spot is up for grabs and maybe one pitching staff spot, which seems to be what Logan Ondrusek is probably thinking.

    I am also reminded that hitting in Arizona in March is different from Chicago in April.

    • rhayex

      @Johnu1: For instance, at one point we had three non-roster middle infielders who were hitting over .300. One of those was Caesar Izturis.

  2. Johnu1

    I need to add that the notion we have Wang and Francis as rotation backups … ah … Micah Owings, anyone?

  3. Johnu1

    Votto: Aroldis was born to throw harder than anybody — EV-er.

  4. Shchi Cossack

    Joey Votto spent another hour on Lance McAlister’s show last night. Here’s the link to McAlister’s page with the podcast. Wide range of topics covered.

    ARRRRRRRRRGH!!! The podcast replay shuts down for me in the middle of Votto discussing WJ’s comment. 😡

    • Shchi Cossack

      Stupid old computer…the Old Cossack had to borrow a computer made within the last decade to listen to the latest Votto podcast.

      • Steve Mancuso

        @Shchi Cossack: Votto said his initial reaction was to feel criticized. As he thought about it more he realized there are certain roles in the lineup. “This past season people were disappointed in my season for the one number – RBI – and equated that with a passive approach and a down year relative to years past. But the year before, I was on pace to have a really great season, but still on pace just for 90 RBI. But 2012 was my best season, by far. Fantastic pace. Didn’t focus on RBI unless it was a big situation or late in the game. Not constantly locked into walking and driving doubles. For the most part I’m trying to be 2012 Joey. Couldn’t replicate that in 2013. Knee wasn’t 100%.”

        Totally fascinating.

  5. Big Ed

    Thank God for spring training.

    My theory is that a team doesn’t pick the year it contends. Instead, it just happens. Guys have career years; the team gets unexpected contributions from an unlikely source; karma kicks in the form of balls falling in at the right time; etc.

    So, you really never know. Votto and Phillips are at full strength; the rotation should be deep; Bruce, Cozart and Frazier are in the sweet spot for career years; Mesoraco is getting a well-earned chance; and Billy Hamilton will be interesting.

    Hope springs eternal. I’m going out in mid-March.

      • redmountain

        @Big Ed: I agree and I very much believe in the SI jinx. I do not agree the Cards had an A+ offseason. They must be thinking that they will be better in RF, because they aren’t going to be better at SS or 3b. They have questions at 2nd and in LF and CF. Sort of sounds like the Reds…The pitching staffs are equal.

  6. Steve Mancuso

    I just listened to the full Votto podcast. I really recommend it. I’m not usually one for player interviews, too many cliches. But this 35 minutes with Votto is fast paced and covers a wide range of interesting topics. Votto gives lots of thoughtful answers. And almost cliche free. If you’ve got 35 minutes, I definitely recommend it.

    • Drew Mac

      @Steve Mancuso: I’ve listened to all three. I come away with the sense that Votto knows more about his hitting than any coach could hope to know (though Votto, to his credit, is careful not to say or even infer this). He reminds me of Ted Williams (in his knowledge of hitting) with better tact. This is, of course, a good thing.

  7. Shchi Cossack

    Let the Bryan Price era begin ❗

    The off season and hot stove league is virtually behind us. The Reds roster for ST appears set unless Burnett or Bonifacio play 2014 with a wishbone C on their cap. What was done or wasn’t done since October is really irrelevant at this point. ST is upon us and baseball season is ready to begin anew. Hallelujah ❗

    The Old Cossack is thrilled about getting our first glimpse of Bryan Price the manager. Will he be everything as a manager that we want? I don’t think anyone could fill that bill. Will he disappoint our other-worldly expectations as a manager? I certainly hope not, but I’m sure he will find more than sufficient criticism launched in his direction unless the Reds go undefeated in 2014.

    Cueto, Latos, Bailey, Leake & Cingrani as a starting rotation. OUCH ❗ If they are and stay healthy, this could rival the best starting five, EV-er.

    Chapman, Marshall, LeCure, Hoover, Simon, Parra and (ahem…) Broxton out of the bullpen managed by Price. The sky over Mt Adams is the limit on how effective that shutdown bullpen could be.

    A healthy and hungry Joey Votto followed in the lineup by a continually improving Bruce entering his prime. I don’t care which arm the pitcher uses to throw the stinking ball, Votto and Bruce are going to simply punish them this season. Votto will lead the league in OBP, OPS, 2B & BB. Bruce will lead the league in HR & RBI. They could very well finish 1-2 in NL MVP voting at the end of 2014 (take your pick which order).

    Mesoraco receives the unanimous and unabashed support from the pitching staff and coaches as he simply siezes the opportunity as the starting catcher and hits to his full potential, forcing Price to move him into the #5 hole behind Bruce by the end of ST.

    Ludwick is overheard proclaiming to the dugout on opening day, “Brother, it’s time to get busy.” Ludwick joins his seven other starting teammates selected by the fan voting as starters in the 2014 all star game (if only the game was played in Cincinati in 2014 rather than 2015).

    Ah, ST is upon us and anything can happen. Hallelujah ❗

    • reaganspad

      @Shchi Cossack: best Bryan Price quote:

      ““We know Johnny’s been throwing and he’s feeling good.”

      5-2 last year in 60 innings at 2.82

      He goes 180 innings next year and that is 10 wins. We know Johnny can be a 20 game winner.

      We do not know that about Homer yet. Sign Johnny to the long term extension Walt.


      • Drew Mac

        @reaganspad: Now would be the classic buy low time for Cueto. I would be fully in favor of adding two years to the back end of his contract at about 12 million per year.

      • Johnu1

        @Drew Mac: Is that something they can just do? Cueto may see his future in a slightly different way.

      • redmountain

        @Drew Mac: So who do you jettison from the starters, because they will be at least two guys in the next year who will be ready to take somebody’s place. Or are we assuming that Leake and Latos and Bailey will all be gone within the next two years?

      • Drew Mac

        @redmountain: I’m not sure I follow you…..Nobody would have to be “jettisoned.” Indications are that Bailey is likely to be gone of his own accord. Signing Cueto for a couple of more years does nothing to prevent a Latos extension. I am not sure how things will play out with Leake. If he has two more years like 2013, he is in for a pretty solid payday. If not, the Reds may not even want him. There will still be room for Stephenson and Cingrani.

      • ToddAlmighty

        @Drew Mac: Yeah, I would love them to buy low on a Cueto extension right now and then see if Latos is interested in whatever money they’ve been offering Bailey. Kind of like how the Bengals offered a contract to Michael Johnson, he turned it down, so they offered it to Carlos Dunlap and he took it.

        Add 2 to Cueto, add 4 to Bruce, and buy out Latos’ single remaining arbitration year plus 5 more years.

        Then the team won’t fall off a cliff in 2016 when Bailey is already a year removed, and Cueto, Latos, and Leake all become FAs. 2016 is scary if they don’t sign at least two of those four pitchers to some type of extension.

      • Drew Mac

        @ToddAlmighty: I’m with you. . . I would add some years to Bruce at a “buy low” value. I think Jay can still add 10 points to his BA and OBP. It would be nice to have him, Cueto, and Latos locked up as you describe.

  8. WVRedlegs

    The two biggest keys will be good health and good consistency. The offense will need 5 consistent months out of 6 months from Cozart, Frazier, Mesoraco, Ludwick and Hamilton. And BP too.
    It can happen and would certainly be nice. Just wish there was one more big bat to stir the Reds drink this year.

    The front office gets a “D-“? Not impressed with the Schumaker and Pena signings? Who was besides WJ? Getting Holmberg back in the Hanigan deal should at least raise it to a “D”.
    I don’t think the Cards deserved an “A+”, though. Maybe a “B+”.

    • Johnu1

      @Johnu1: This particular comment is in reply to one of my own that is “awaiting moderation.”

  9. ToddAlmighty

    I don’t know if someone talked to Votto, if he realized something himself, or if Lance just makes him feel really comfortable, but I am loving these Votto podcasts. Votto is making jokes, laughing, and saying some pretty interesting things. Most sociable/happy I think I have heard Votto has been on these last two podcasts.

    Maybe he’s emerging from his shell a bit? Become not just the baseball, but the fan interaction face of the team? Who knows, but this offseason has certainly been a step in the right direction for Votto.

  10. WVRedlegs

    Bob Nightengale at USA Today Sports is already proclaiming the Cards as pennant winners.
    “So good that the Cardinals might as well practice popping the bubbly in spring training, just to make sure nothing goes wrong in their real celebration.

    No one is going to come close to stopping this runaway train in the National League Central.

    The road to the National League pennant is I-70 through St. Louis, with the Cardinals one game away from having three consecutive World Series appearances.

    In theory, the Cardinals haven’t been this big a favorite to run away with their division in a decade. They could have their playoff rotation set up by Labor Day and use September to watch their prospects play.”

    Bulletin board material. That’s why they play the games.
    That Opening series against the Cards is going to be very important. Not so much for the whole season, but for starting the season off on the right foot. Reading it got me fired up for Opening Day. I hate the Cardinals.


    • Johnu1

      @WVRedlegs: Anyone else recall the spring of 2013 … why, it seems like only yesterday … that the Blue Jays and the Nationals were going to go at it for the World Cham-peen-ship of All Ball.

      Boston was going to hobble home in last place, even though the chicken and the beer were gone.

      The Angels? Nobody gonna stop them until they got to Toronto.

      And Houston was going to lose 120 games, one less than Miami.

    • preach

      @WVRedlegs: This post should be bulletin board material for US as Spring Training progresses. NO ONE other than our fans can talk about our team like that. Oh, I’m looking forward to the season now…..

      • Johnu1

        @preach: To be fair, it’s the writer making a lot of points by talking to a GM who has asserted that the team looks pretty good.

  11. Johnu1

    Evidently AJ Burnett signing with the Phillies. This isn’t a big surprise.

    Can the Parrots depend on that pitching staff again?