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Thank You Brandon Phillips

I would like to thank Brandon Phillips. Thank him for finally agreeing to a trade and allow the Reds to move on with their “rebuild”. I would imagine BP was given some sort of ultimatum about his playing time, so he decided to move on. But no matter the reason, I would like to thank him for agreeing to this.
I also would like to thank him for his time with the Reds. There is NO DOUBT Brandon is the GREATEST 2nd Baseman in franchise history… to Joe Morgan, of course. He was spectacular with his glove and bat. He also was willing to bat anywhere in the lineup. He definitely was worth the price of admission on the field.
Now, yes…Brandon did do things off the field that frustrated me. Brandon definitely loved him some Brandon. Was he dismissive of the media at times? Sure. Was he prickly with fans at times? Sure. But I also saw Brandon do many great things with fans…especially with young fans. Now be honest….haven’t you had a time or two or three at work you may not be proud of? Yes, I am sure you have.
Bottom Line….it was time. Time for Brandon to move on. Having him on the Reds roster any longer made no sense.
Thank you Brandon. Good Luck in Atlanta.

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Time to Revamp The Reds

San Diego Padres v Cincinnati Reds
The “window of opportunity” for the Cincinnati Reds has closed. In fact, it closed when they choked and lost Game 5 of the NLDS in 2012 vs the San Francisco Giants. The team should have fired Dusty Baker after that season and gone after a solid managerial candidate such as Terry Francona. This year’s team has been horribly decimated by injury, yes that’s true, but it is also apparent this team has once again rolled over and died.   I believe it is because they are hearing the same voice (via current manager Bryan Price) that they heard in the previous regime (Baker’s).  Looking back at it now, it is obvious that the organization went the ‘safe route’ by elevating Price as manager instead of doing a comprehensive search for a manager who would hold his players accountable.

Jay Bruce

As far as what this organization needs to do going forward…it needs to begin an overhaul. It needs to trade valuable pieces so that they are used to rebuild a minor league system that is in shambles.  Even those who have been elevated to the big league club that have had some semblance of success this season can be called into question.  RP Jumbo Diaz and 2B Kris Negron have done well but are minor league ‘lifers’ who can not be counted on to continue to help.   I would strongly consider trading players such as horribly overrated RF Jay Bruce who never fulfills his supposed ‘potential’, superstar closer Aroldis Chapman & starting pitchers Mat Latos and Mike Leake to make this happen.

A year ago, I would have been dead set against the trading of Chapman.  I now realize how overrated the closer position is in Major League Baseball.  I also realize that the Reds made a mistake in not turning such a talent into a starting pitcher.  Time to try and see what value you can get in return for him before he begins eating up salary.   I also get frustrated when fellow Reds fans suggest they try to deal players like Chris Heisey, Ryan Ludwick and Zack Cozart….what other MLB organization would want those players? Also, there is no hope in trading Joey Votto and/or Brandon Phillips unless the Reds want to eat a significant portion of their contracts and we all know that will not happen.  The Reds need to do something to avoid becoming a team like the Philadelphia Phillies; a collection of aged, injured and past their prime players who are bleeding the organization’s payroll.

2014 Cincinnati Reds Preview

redsMajor League Baseball Spring Training has begun and the Reds have returned to Goodyear, Arizona to get ready for it.  The Queen City Redlegs began 2013 with a lot of optimism.  They added Shin Soo Choo to play CF and looked forward to full, healthy seasons from perennial MVP Candidate Joey Votto and pitching staff ace Johnny Cueto.  Quite frankly, 2013 was a “World Series or Bust” year for them.  Unfortunately, it was a bust.  Votto played a full season at 1B, but seemed to change his approach at the plate and on the field after dealing with a injured left knee in 2012.  Joey hit .305, but dipped to 24 HRs and 73 RBIs, numbers that don’t warrant $25 million a year.  Another blow was suffered as LF and five hole hitter Ryan Ludwick tore the labrum lining in his right shoulder on a slide Opening Day.  Cueto continued to struggle as well with muscle issues.  Still, the Reds remained in contention and finished with a 90-72 record even with a dismal end to the regular season that saw them totally flame out against the Mets and division rival Pittsburgh.  A third place finish in the NL Central gave them a Wild Card playoff berth vs. the Pirates at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.  That game was an epic fail as the hungry Pirates and a rowdy Bucs crowd put an end to the Reds’ season.

price  Owner Bob Castellini decided change needed to be made at the top.  Dusty Baker was great at getting the Reds to the playoffs, but just was unable to rally the team any further.  Pitching Coach Bryan Price was chosen to take the helm and bring accountability to the clubhouse.  Shin Soo Choo parlayed his .285, 21 HR, 54 RBI season into a huge payday with the Texas Rangers, C Ryan Hanigan became a Tampa Bay Ray and rock solid P Bronson Arroyo was not offered a new contract and moved on to the Diamondbacks.  GM Walt Jocketty took a lot of criticism over the winter as he made no moves of significance to counter those losses.  P Homer Bailey was resigned to a 6 year, $105 million contract; a move that caused some head shaking but needed to be made in today’s MLB salary world.  To risk losing Bailey would severely impact the pitching staff in the future.

billyFor the Reds to reach the playoffs again in 2014 and move past the first round, a lot needs to come from the current roster and a newcomer.  Speedster Billy Hamilton has been tabbed to take over duties in CF and the leadoff spot.  There is no doubt Billy can run.  He stole 13 bases in 13 games during a late call-up to Cincy and provided energy every time he entered a game.  But you can’t steal first base.  Billy hit .256 at AAA Louisville last season.  Joey Votto needs to quit trying to be John Olerud (google the name, kids) and return to his 2010 MVP numbers (.324, 37  HRs, 113 RBIs).  RF Jay Bruce also needs to finally take the next step to stardom.  Jay is a solid player, but like the team, seems unable to take the ‘next step’.  And what type of season should Reds fans expect of “Dat Dude” Brandon Phillips?  BP once again played stellar defense at 2B and had a decent season at the plate (.261, 18 HRs, 103 RBIs), but seems to have become a disruptive force in the clubhouse.  He has questioned ownership’s truthfulness regarding finances, had a well publicized blow up on Cincinnati Enquirer sportswriter C. Trent Rosecrans and became even more disgruntled after news surfaced the Reds shopped him to the Yankees for a trade.  Plus, a disturbing profile came out this winter about closer Aroldis Chapman.  Will that be a distraction?

The starting pitching staff of Johnny Cueto (barring further injury), Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Tony Cingrani and Mike Leake should be more than solid and the Reds bullpen is also a plus.  But with the lack of moves during the offseason, Joey Votto’s new approach at the plate, the almost certain drop off in production for CF/leadoff spot and change in leadership, I see an 84-78 finish which will lead to 3rd place and no playoffs for the 2014 Reds.  The ‘window of opportunity’ has closed on this team.

Small market Reds break the bank…again

The Reds have once again proven that the “small market” label used by many sports teams is nothing more than an excuse.

In 2012, fans were preparing for the worst, fearing that two of their stars would skip town for a long-term contract and bag o’ cash.  Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto were outgrowing Cincinnati and the small-town Reds.  Could the Reds possibly scrape up the money to sign one of them?  After Votto agreed to the biggest contract in club history, Phillips signed a six-year deal for big money.

The Reds have inked Homer Bailey to a six-year, $105 million contract.  The 27-year old has developed into the pitcher that the club and fans have been waiting on.  I really like this deal.  Bailey has his moments, but he is a workhorse with immense talent.

Cincinnati’s “Sound of Silence”

walt Once the final out was recorded in Pittsburgh against the Reds in their Wild Card Playoff Game, speculation swirled—would Dusty Baker be shown the door?  Would Brandon Phillips be traded? Would the Reds be able to retain Shin Soo Choo? Could there be a chance Bronson Arroyo would stick around?  Is Homer Bailey or Aroldis Chapman about to be dealt for a big bat?  Would Chuck D remain the Reds #1 Fan?
chuck dOk, scratch that last question….but other than Dusty being fired, no real moves have been made.  Yes, Arroyo probably won’t be retained, Ryan Hanigan was dealt to the Rays to make room for Devin Mesoraco to become the Reds’ #1 catcher and no real offer was made for Choo….but those moves were expected.  As far as Brandon Phillips being dealt….yes, a lot of smoke occurred regarding a trade to the Yankees, but that’s all it was, smoke and no fire.  Anyway, would the Reds be better off without “Dat Dude BP”?  The answer is a resounding “NO”.  Yes, Brandon had an off second half of 2013, but he still-hands down-is one of the best second basemen in all of Major League Baseball.

“Uncle Walt” (GM Walt Jocketty) said he tried to make some moves during the recent Winter Meetings, but was stymied.  That is not very encouraging when you consider the losses the Reds have made personnel wise…there is no way logically you can expect the Redlegs to overtake the Pirates or Cardinals by standing pat.  Yes, speedster Billy Hamilton is the ‘heir apparent’ in CF, but as they say—you can’t steal first base, and Billy’s AAA performance in 2013 wasn’t that encouraging.  Word is that Billy will work on bunting in Spring Training.  Hopefully that ‘on the job training’ will take.

Also, I still have nagging doubts about the change made at the managerial position.  Yes, Bryan Price came off very well during his initial press conference and subsequent media interviews…but I still have doubts about making someone who was part of Dusty’s staff the ‘man in charge’.  Hopefully I am wrong.

I hope Walt is able to make some impactful moves or else Simon & Garfunkel will be singing on Reds’ Opening Day 2014.  

What’s the truth about the Brandon Phillips situation?

Rumors have run wild this offseason about Reds second baseman, Brandon Phillips. Will he be traded? Did Walt Jocketty already try to trade him? Did the Yankees really turn down a deal?

The latest rumor about Phillips to the Yankees for Brett Gardner is the most interesting. Reports are that the Yankees turned down the offer. This surfaced just days after the Redsfest drama of whether or not Phillips would show, and then Jocketty insinuating that the Yankees may have just been trying to use previous rumors about a deal as leverage against Robinson Cano.

In my opinion, the Reds tried to deal Phillips and the Yankees turned the deal down. The Reds tried to smooth things over so Phillips would appear at Redsfest and, hopefully, not carry any ill feelings into Spring Training. Phillips is very popular with the fans, and the Reds brass recognizes that. However, they will do what is necessary to improve the club. If that means trading Phillips, so be it.

The reality of the situation is that nobody actually knows anything outside of Jocketty and Brian Cashman. Beat writers, bloggers and other social media “experts” who claim to have the inside scoop usually don’t. Jocketty is notorious for keeping people in the dark about potential deals, as he should.

So, Reds Country, be careful what you believe. Just remember to always root for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.