Plenty of news in the wake of this weekend's Redsfest, which set a new attendance record. On to the links!
Jocketty's going elephant hunting for a starting pitcher
At Redsfest, Jocketty announced that "there are six pitchers that we've targeted that we feel are top-of-the-rotation guys, potentially. They might be threes now, and could be twos. We've talked to all the clubs and exchanged things with some, not to the point we're close to anything." Jocketty of course could not identify any of them in accordance with the league's tampering rules.
No mo' Coco?
Fay speculates that the Reds "hold little hope of re-signing Francisco Cordero. The way the closer market has settled, the Reds might be able to get Cordero back at one-year deal in the $7 million range. But I wouldn't even do that. I'd stay in house. Try Bill Bray first. If he doesn't work out, turn to Sam LeCure or Jose Arredondo or Brad Boxberger." Fay suggests Edinson Volquez as another candidate, which is a sensible idea that we've been kicking around here. One suggestion that won't fly with Baker is closer-by-committee. It's truly amazing how baseball survived before the Save era.
- Fay also writes that the Reds are likely to extend Brandon Phillips, but not Dusty Baker. An extension for El Beeperino will likely defer some dollars. I'll withhold judgment until I see the years and dollars, but without an heir apparent at the keystone I think this is a good idea. Jocketty told Fay that it's a "complicated contract" and will take some time to complete. As for Baker, Fay believes that David Bell's promotion was a telling move by the organization. Agreed. Baker has vowed not to speak about contract issues this coming year. Good idea.
Arroyo feels the need for more speed
Bronson Arroyo thinks he has the cure for his woeful 2011 season: velocity. "All I'm looking for is more velocity. They can say all they want that velocity doesn't mean anything. But there's world of difference between 86 and 91. I'm not going to lose the ability to get people out and the feel for my breaking ball. I'm trying to my body strong and get that velocity back." BA's fastball averaged 87.0 mph last year, down 1.0 from 2010 and 1.5 from 2009. We shall see if the back and hip exercises Arroyo discusses are of any help.
Mike Leake is resolved to pitch more innings
He'd like to throw 200 innings in 2012. To work on his endurance, Leake built a gym inside the garage of his house this winter and will start throwing earlier. "I felt strong last year coming off of the end of the year. I'm sticking to the same routine. I'm throwing about a half a month earlier this time. Last year ended with a little bit of tightness."
No Coz for concern about the elbow
Zack Cozart's promising call-up was cut short when he fractured his non-throwing elbow. It sounds like the TJ surgery and rehab have gone well: "I can start swinging, throwing, taking groundballs. I'm pumped. I told my wife I was so excited. People still want there offseason, but I'm ready to play in like a month." Baker said he won't fully commit to Cozart as the starter until he sees in ST how well the elbow has healed: "But No. 1, we want to reserve that a little bit to see how his health is and how his arm holds out." This sounds more like lip service because the team is actively shopping for a backup SS. The team made a bid on Ramon Santiago, who elected to re-sign with Detroit.
- In other medical news, Chris Valaika was cleared to run and throw following surgery to repair his ruptured ACL. Also, future Reds' SS Billy Hamilton apparently fractured one of his hands in winter ball.
Meso is humble, hungry
But Devin Mesoraco not taking anything for granted: "Hanigan's proven what he can do and I haven't really done anything yet. I can't imagine I'm just going to jump to the top. I've got to prove myself before I get any starts."
Alonso must be really hungry, because he's lost 18 pounds
"I've been working really hard. Ever since I went home, I started doing my thing. So far, it's been working out. I start on Monday with my outfield stuff. I started my hitting last week. It's going to be fun." Sheldon notes that Alonso recovered quickly from arthroscopic surgery to clean out his knee and healed from a sore ankle that cut his 2011 season a little short in late September.
Stubbs is ready to put a frustrating 2011 behind him
He also notes that he and several other teammates were in the Bahamas a few weeks ago for Laynce Nix's wedding.
- Joel "Sofa King" Luckhaupt ponders the Reds' offseason decisions
Whatever they do, the FSO Stat Czar suggests that they make a big push for the short-term to prevent losing all of the goodwill generated in 2010. Glad to see The Hardball Times reach out to Joel for this piece.
- Whither Hiroki Kuroda?
This was kicked around in one of the threads last week, but the Dodgers have appeared to saysayonara to Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda will be 37 next season, but he's had an impressive four-year run since coming over from the NPB. According to the LA Times he wants to pitch for one more season. I've seen a lot of speculation that he'll simply go back to Japan, but I don't think that should be a foregone conclusion. Kuroda moved his family over here and has successfully adapted to life in the States, both on and off the field. Maybe it's time for him to dusty off his Hiroshima Carp hat for a run in Cincinnati. Assuming that he'll pass on Cincinnati because of its size and location is lazy and self-defeating thinking, in my mind.
- Speaking of the Dodgers, Magic Johnson and Mark Cuban are reportedly a couple of potential buyers
Cuban's explanation for why he's interested in L.A. when he passed on Atlanta makes a lot of sense: "I like franchises that need a lot of help. The Braves have a great franchise."
- Dan Driessen, a Cincinnati immortal
JT at The Writer's Journey takes a look back at Dan Driessen, who was inducted into the Reds' HOF last week: "Driessen broke into the big leagues in 1973 and made an immediate impact, batting .301 and tying for third place in Rookie of the Year voting .... In 1974 he became the regular third baseman for the team and finished the season with a respectable .281 batting average. However, with the emergence of Foster as an offensive threat, Rose was moved from the outfield to third base and Driessen found himself playing a utility role and giving the other players a rest in the World Championship years."
I don't think this is quite right. I don't know the full story, but Sparky or Howsam must not have been happy with Driessen's defense at the hot corner. The Reds acquired slick glove/no hit 3B John Vukovich in the offseason, and he began '75 in the starting lineup. Sparky couldn't stand "balsa", however, and soon convinced Rose to switch to 3B. Driessen never played 3B again after '74.
- Big League Stew revisits rappin' George Foster
Foster the person proved to be much less of a rapper than a ball player: "I'm George Foster, I love this team The Mets are better than the Red Machine I live to play, and that's my thing This year we're gonna win the Series ring."
- With the Winter Meetings coming up, here's a look back at the franchise's best trade
A final bit of BRM nostalgia. At the '71 winter meetings, the Reds flipped Lee May, Tommy Helms and Jimmy Stewart to the Astros for Joe Morgan, Cesar Geronimo, Ed Armbrister, Dennis Menke and RHP Jack Billingham. Geronimo hadn't done anything up to that point, and Joe Morgan wasn't yet JOE MORGAN. Still. Just looking at that trade boggles the mind.