One more day until the Jordan Pacheco Era begins for the Reds. Tomorrow is the deadline for pitchers and catchers to report (a phrase first used in 1924) for spring training in Goodyear, AZ. Most of the players are there already. A little news and reading material to keep you busy:
• Sweet Lou Piniella will serve as the grand marshall of the Opening Day parade. The club recently hired Piniella as a senior advisor to baseball operations in a consulting capacity. The team also announced Piniella will spend time with the team in spring training.
• Mark Sheldon wrote an informative 5-part preview of the Reds season: players seeking a bounce back season, spotlight on Jose Peraza, prospects to watch, uncertainty in the rotation, and projected lineup and rotation.
• The Reds made two of the worst offseason transactions, according to Dave Cameron at FanGraphs. On the Todd Frazier trade:
Taking less long-term value to acquire Brandon Phillips replacement, before you ensure that Phillips would indeed waive his no-trade clause to play elsewhere, means that the team took a lighter package than they could have gotten from the White Sox directly, but also don’t get the benefit of having Peraza play everyday in 2016. And at these prices, the team may have realistically been better off holding on to Frazier, hoping he had another big first half, and then seeing what his market looked like in July. Instead, the team sold low on one of their best trade chips, and now their path back to contention looks even longer.
On the Reds acquisition of Alfredo Rodriguez (which Cameron says has happened, but the Reds haven’t officially announced it yet):
Like with Arizona’s decision to sign Yoan Lopez a year ago, there seems to not be enough of a return on this investment to justify the penalties associated with going over their pool allocation, and the Reds can’t really afford to be leaving talent on the table right now.
Cameron’s list didn’t include selling low on Aroldis Chapman, which surprised me.
• The baseball staff at Sports Illustrated gave the Reds offseason a final grade of D with only one organization, the LA Angels, receiving a worse score.
In addition to light trade returns on All-Stars Todd Frazier, a third baseman who landed with the White Sox after a three-team deal that also included the Dodgers, and closer Aroldis Chapman, who was shipped to the Yankees for an underwhelming package of prospects, the Reds failed to find takers this winter for both outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Brandon Phillips.
• Dave Sheinin (Washington Post) wrote a nice article about Dusty Baker, who begins managing the Nationals this week.
Baker loves being home, even if he never intended to be home so much lately. It wasn’t as if he was pleased to get fired by the Reds after the 2013 season — after a 90-win season that the franchise hasn’t come close to matching — but it did afford him the chance to watch his son play a lot of baseball these past two years, and it meant he could be there to walk his daughter, Natosha, from his first marriage, down the aisle on a summer Saturday in 2014.
“The time off did me some good,” he says. “I didn’t think it would. But it gave me the time to get everything back together — my mind together, my spirit together and my body together.”
• Meanwhile, water is wet. The New York media is discovering Aroldis Chapman is a physical wonder, perhaps the best athlete in baseball and capable of any feat (just don’t ask him to try being a starting pitcher):
According to a person familiar with the situation, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Chapman would beat the 6-foot, 160-pound Hamilton, who stole 57 bases in 114 games last season, in a 100-yard dash. The person said Chapman might be the best athlete in the majors. And it’s more than flat-out speed. Word is other Reds players wouldn’t go into the weight room when Chapman was working out because they didn’t want to be embarrassed by his strength.
• One of many large question marks for the Reds this year is third base. The leading candidate, Eugenio Suarez, has limited experience playing the position.
Third base is not the natural position for Eugenio Suarez. The Cincinnati Reds short-term heir apparent to Todd Frazier has played just 10 major league innings at third with just two chances. Suarez did start 41 games in the minors at third in 2009 and 2010. He had a .926 fielding percentage at third during those two seasons. He never played third in the minors after that. (Robb Hoff)
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.