Hope you've all caught postseason fever. While it's unfortunate that the Reds are not participating in the NL Central Slapfight, the playoffs have paid a special tribute to the Reds' 2011 season by allowing the low-scoring team in each LDS advance to the final four. St. Pythagoras is breaking right triangles over his knee in disgust. The playoffs as a crapshoot - particularly in the Wild Card era - is at odds with the game's history and marathon regular season, Joe Posnanski writes: "Baseball is in a weird place because it is different from every other sport. Only baseball has teams play 162 regular season games.... By playing a season that long, baseball seems to be saying that the way to find the best team is through the long season, the day-to-day, the ability to overcome injuries, adversity, slumps, heat waves and all that. And for many, many years that was precisely the case.... But ever since the addition of the wild card, the postseason has become the dominant story."
Buster Olney tweeted over the weekend that the Reds will listen to offers for Votto Rival executives are "getting signals that the Reds won't shop Joey Votto -- but that they are fully prepared to listen to offers," according to a grown man called Buster. Could the Marlins be one of the suitors? Sounds crazy, but that doesn't stop the Palm Beach Post from speculating. The Marlins are seeking a new team representative as it prepares to show off a new stadium and an amazing technicolor logo. So the long-rumored Hanley deal could finally be in the works - although after this season (95 OPS+), I'm not so sure that's a good idea. HT to MLBTR for the links.
Boxberger on the Reds' radar for a big league bullpen spot Brad Boxberger has has little experience above AA, but with a solid 2011 and great stuff, Fay believes that Boxberger is a decent bet to make the Reds out of spring training. Jocketty isn't ruling it out: "He could probably use some more time at Triple-A. But he'll be invited to camp, and he might surprise us."
The birth of a rumor - Yonder to the Phillies Ryan Howard ruptured his Achilles on the final play of the Phillies' disappointing season, which jeopardizes his and the Phillies' 2012 season. I haven't yet seen any speculation on what the Phillies might do, so I'm gonna get the ball rolling: the Phillies are going to make a strong push for Yonder Alonso, possibly involving a third team. Philadelphia certainly has the talent to compete next year but is running out of time with its aging roster. As they're now a pitching-heavy team, they can't afford the loss of Howard's bat for any significant duration. But what should the Reds get in return? The Phillies' depth is its rotation. Halladay and Lee are out of the question, and I'm not particularly interested in Oswalt or Blanton. Vance Worley had a terrific rookie year but I'm not convinced that it's for real, given his fairly pedestrian minor league numbers. That leaves Cole Hamels, an ace on most teams. He has just one arbitration year remaining, so he'd likely be a type A rental. He also just had a procedure to remove "loose bodies" in his elbow and will have hernia surgery this week. But if Dr. K gives the green light, I'd do it.
Blog Red Machine tries to answer "just how fast is Billy Hamilton?" Billy Hamilton had a .220 BABIP on balls fielded by infielders this year, a pretty amazing rate. As a point of reference, Drew Stubbs was at .161, and nobody in the bigs reached .200. Of course, the fielders are better in the majors versus the Midwest League, but there's no reason to doubt that Hamilton's speed will be a top flight asset if he reaches the majors.
BtB previews this winter's strong Shortstop market The Reds are probably not going to shell out for a starter, but they are in the market for a veteran backup as they were last winter. Ramon Santiago could be a good fit. With an OPS+ in the 80s in each of the past three seasons, he's not a strong hitter but you can do (and we have done) worse as a backup infielder. He's also a versatile gloveman, with solid numbers at both short and second and some experience at third. As he's getting all this playoff experience on Detroit's dime, which should pay dividends for the Reds next season.
So what are your W10K plans? Only five franchises are currently in the 10,000 win club. The Reds, with 9,994 wins, look to join the fraternity in early April 2012 (they should've made it this season, of course - grumble, grumble). The tally starts in 1882, when the Reds joined the American Association. The Reds were original members of the National League but were expelled after the 1880 season for, in part, refusing to ban beer during games.
The Reds' home attendance was up this year, but more curiously, the team was also the second biggest road draw of 2011. Only the fabled Yankees finished ahead of the Reds' 33,120 average road attendance. At home, the Reds drew 27,328 per game, 10th in the NL but also representing the 4th best raw attendance increase in the league.
For Ben Jukich, life is good As you might know, former Reds farmhand Ben Jukich pitched in Korea this year for the LG Twins. As 'mache discusses, it was a good year: 10 wins, a 3.60 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 187 innings, and it looks like he recently finalized a 2012 deal with them. He and his wife also welcomed a mini-Jukich into the world this year. With Colby Lewis in the rotation for one of the AL finalists, it's worth keeping tabs on pitchers on the other side of the Pacific in case they enjoy a breakout.
The Yu Darvish winter hype machine has commenced With all the talk about getting a bona fide ace, one option could be Japan's Yu Darvish. Sure it's a longshot, but so was the Reds' last major international pitching signee. ESPN (Insider) takes a quick gander at Darvish, the next great NPB hope: Thanks to his two deadly slider varieties plus a fastball that he can dial up to 97 mph, many insiders consider the 25-year-old to be the best pitching prospect ever to come out of Japan. "He's going to be a top-of-the-rotation starter," says an MLB scout. "I see no risk with him." Just perhaps a bit overstated, particularly after Daisuke's last few years. Though I think Darvish (whose parents met in Florida) will have an easier cultural adjustment to the States which will help his on-field performance.