Red Reposter - Baseball Christmas Eve Edition

Reynaldo Navarro, number 81 on your scorecard, but number 1 in our hearts. - Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball's around the corner, or next door, or beating down your door. It's close. It's tomorrow.

The game of baseball will actually be played by Cincinnati Reds tomorrow, and Bryan Price looks ready to lead them. John Fay picked the brain of the new skipper to get some insight into Price's managerial philosophy on the eve of the Reds first spring training game (opposite the Cleveland Indians in Goodyear), and he uncovered some encouraging pieces.  For one, Price wants Zack Cozart and Todd Frazier to be more active in the run game, and that's a noticeable departure from the Dusty Baker era.  Price also seemingly has no qualms about hitting Jay Bruce and Joey Votto next to each other in the everyday lineup, and though we've already heard that mentioned, there's 6 years worth of garbled crap stuck in my ears about how that won't work, and, well, I just need to read it over and over again for posterity's sake.

Price isn't wasting time, and he's making important decisions already. Price announced that reliever Alfredo Simon - not Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, or any other starter from 2013 - will take the mound and start the first Spring Training game on Wednesday, as C. Trent Rosecrans notes.  Simon, of course, was a key cog in the 2013 Reds bullpen and logged a team-high 87.2 innings of relief last year, but he does have some starting experience in his past stint with the Baltimore Orioles.  The crux of this decision isn't really about Simon, though, as it's more directly related to Mat Latos and his recovery from knee surgery.  It seems that there is little doubt about Latos' ability to be fully healthy and sturdy at some point in the very near future, but since he's yet been unable to throw full-effort off a mound, they're going to make sure a contingency plan is in place.  John Fay mentioned on Twitter this morning that the Reds won't need a 5th starter until April 6th, and C. Trent says the plan may be to just bump him back a week for both his health and for matching him with the St. Louis Cardinals in their early season series.  Remember when I wondered about the Opening Day starter? I still think it'll be Homer Bailey.

Nelson Cruz, 33, officially signed with the Orioles. The Orioles will be giving him $8 million to play for just the 2014 season, and they forfeited their 2nd round draft pick to reach that agreement (their 1st round draft pick was previously forfeited when they signed Ubaldo Jimenez).  If things go as expected, the Reds will be giving Ryan Ludwick, 34,  $13 million to play for just the 2014 season.  This freakin' offseason, man.

Beyond the Box Score is running an "MLB's Worst Tools" series, and it's pretty solid.  So far, they've tabbed Ryan Howard as having the worst arm, Raul Ibanez as having the worst glove, and Paul Konerko as having the worst speed.  The moral of this story?  If you don't want to make a "Worst Tools" list, don't be good enough to stick around the big leagues for 15 years making bajillions of dollars.

Mark Sheldon compiled a list of places to eat in the Phoenix area for those venturing to Arizona for some Spring Training games.  I know nothing of these places, however, as I have only consumed food and drink in one establishment - and one establishment only - during my previous stints in the Land of the Endless Strip Mall.  And yes, it is in a strip mall, and it is glorious.

Drew Stubbs has the early lead on being the Colorado Rockies' starting CF.  Things went sour, his stats tanked, he struckout eight times a minute, and his Reds career ended abruptly when he was part of the trade that brought Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati, but his career as a big leaguer is still trucking right along.  Given the history of curveballs floating and the size of the outfield in Coors Field, I have a sneaking suspicion that Mr. Stubbs may be in for a decent bounce-back season.  No world-beating, mind you, but a solid season nonetheless.  Just some perspective as the the Reds head into the 2014 season with serious question marks in the outfield.

The Reds will take on the Indians tomorrow at 3:05 EST.  I don't know who will be sitting in the radio booth next to Marty while he complains, though.

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