Minor league baseball seasons have come to a close across the country, and whenever that happens in even numbered years that often means the end of associations between MLB teams and the cities where they've sent their prospects for years. The Cincinnati Reds are no different, and the end of the 2014 season means they get to decide whether or not to continue working with the Bakersfield Blaze as their Advanced A-ball affiliate, or not. Baseball America provided a comprehensive look at the contract status of each franchise and their affiliates, and it's worth checking out to get a glimpse into the possibilities on the table for the Reds as the potential relocation negotiations begin.
Of course, it's no simple system. Finding cities with franchises and decent stadiums is hard enough, but doing so while other MLB franchises are also on the prowl means that there's often little time to waste in making agreements. Also, of course, the regional nature of the lower minors means that there are only a handful of realistic options at hand, and the best often get claimed quickly. Needing an Advanced A team means the Reds are in need of a team in the California League, the Carolina League, or the Florida State League, and as Doug Gray noted at redsminorleagues.com, that pretty much locks them in to one of six potential locations (Bakersfield being one of them). As Doug mentioned, the Reds have prior relationships with both Carolina and Lynchburg, so there's always a chance of them returning to the East coast. However, with the moving of Spring Training facilities from Florida to Arizona a handful of years ago, the Reds made it very apparent that they'll have a presence out West, so it wouldn't surprise me to find that they've got interest in staying in the Cal League, either, despite the numerous issues with stadium age, hitter-friendliness, and lack of attendance.
Johnny Cueto will take the mound for the Reds tonight against the Chicago Cubs in what looks like his third to last start of the 2014 season. If you're one who buys into the trade rumors circling the Reds these days, you're firmly convinced that they'll be looking to trade pitching for hitting as the bulk of the current rotation heads into their final years under contract. That, of course, means that you think Cueto could be moved for a haul of prospects as he aces his way towards a massive nine-figure contract, and if that's the case, well, this may be the last time you get to see Cueto pitch in Cincinnati's road gray uniforms. He's scheduled for a pair of home starts to wrap the season (one against the Milwaukee Brewers and one against the Pittsburgh Pirates on the final day of the season), so there are still a few chances to see him in GABP. Either way, traded or not, tonight's one of the final times to watch him pitch in what has been an otherworldly 2014 season. As former fearless leader noted on Twitter, the kind of season Cueto has produced thus far rarely goes unrewarded.
Today is the 26th anniversary of the perfect game masterfully thrown by the Reds' Tom Browning which - among many other things of late - makes me feel quite old. As the Enquirer noted on Twitter, Browning was featured in an E:60 video earlier this year about perfect games and those who have thrown them. Check it out, and remember that Cueto is pitching on the anniversary...
In other baseball news, the Atlanta Braves have announced that their newer new stadium will be called SunTrust Park and that it will be as bland and lifeless as nearly every other middle of the pack suburban stadium in the United States. One thing gleaned from this? How many people apparently had an affinity for Turner Field, since it never really impressed me much, either. Yet another once-in-a-half-century opportunity for progressive development squandered, though in Atlanta's case it's only a once-in-21-years opportunity. Heck, at least they didn't bulldoze a historic city block smack dab in the middle of downtown to build a concrete box and a Jeff Ruby steakhouse. I digress.
Finally, great person Brayan Pena was the latest Red to join Josh Sneed for an old-timey cruise around Cincinnati on The Drive. Check it out, be be warned that there's a super loud ad with Marty talking to you before it starts.