It’s official. Baseball is back.
Pitchers and catchers officially reported to the Cincinnati Reds complex in Goodyear, Arizona yesterday, meaning there were wind sprints run at half-speed, the sweet sounds of baseballs hitting gloves, and a barrage of faces making their first appearances in red at the team facility. Fortunately, the ‘newness’ around the players already in camp has created quite the exciting vibe, one that has clearly permeated the early portion of camp.
It’s a sentiment that Tucker Barnhart appreciates in particular. For weeks, he watched his named tossed around as a key would-be trade piece as the Reds flirted with acquiring J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins, a deal that ultimately fell apart as the fish sent their star to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans spoke with the incumbent backstop, with Tucker noting specifically how anxious he was during the rumors because he was already so excited about what the Reds had begun to build around him. He wanted to be a part of emerging from the rebuild, and has already been in Goodyear getting acquainted with new Reds pitchers Sonny Gray and Alex Wood, specifically.
Speaking of C. Trent, he’s got another excellent read on another new face in Goodyear, too - this time on new manager David Bell and his relationship with his baseball-heavy family.
Know who is also a new face in camp, and who has reported early? That’d be Yasiel Puig, which is a phenomenal sight to see. File that away for the first time some yayhoo begins to complain that he’s ‘bad for the clubhouse,’ or some steaming pile of BS.
MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon is on the scene, too, and caught up with a few of the other Reds already in camp. He spoke with newcomer Matt Kemp, who mentioned his good relationship with new hitting coach Turner Ward from their Dodger days, and Sheldon also caught up with the newly-extended Sonny Gray for his thoughts, too.
There was also this tidbit, which is both predictable and perhaps a bit telling:
When asked if Gray, Wood, Castillo, Roark and DeSclafani was the rotation, Bell pretty much confirmed it was. "That’s the group. We just haven’t made any final determinations yet.” Said Lorenzen, Romano, Mahle, Reed, Finnegan could fit in starting/long relief/swing roles. #reds— Mark Sheldon (@m_sheldon) February 12, 2019
For one, it’s great to see that Brandon Finnegan still figures into the team’s plans at the moment, since that may well be an endorsement that he’s punted the health issues and awful performance from the 2018 season down the road. What could well be telling, though, is that Robert Stephenson isn’t listed among that group, especially since he’s out of options. If he isn’t going to challenge for the final spot in the rotation and is behind that fivesome on the long relief spectrum...well, let’s just say that doesn’t bode well for his roster spot going forward. It’s also worth pointing out that Lucas Sims wasn’t mentioned here, either, which might well give a little insight into where he is health-wise after his 2018 season was canned early due to a shoulder problem.
In other news, the Reds announced yesterday that Rob Manfred would be the grand marshal for this year’s Findlay Market Opening Day Parade. Please clap.
The Phillies extended young ace Aaron Nola on Wednesday, inking him to what could amount to a 5 year, $56.75 million deal, as MLB Trade Rumors broke down. Considering the 25 year old just posted a 10.0 bWAR season and gave up a pair of would-be free agent years in the deal, that seems like quite the steal for the Phillies, all told, despite the obvious life-changing amount of money that Nola will now have guaranteed. It’s certainly a referendum on the current state of the free agent market - as was the willingness of Sonny Gray to agree to his extension earlier this winter - and it makes you wonder if other young, burgeoning star pitchers might well be interested in similar guarantees. Luis Castillo, for instance...
Ever wonder where, and how, those glorious stats you stare at on Baseball Reference come together? Well, James Wagner of The New York Times has an excellent look behind the curtain, complete with quotes from Minnesota Twins GM Thad Levine, who uses BBRef ‘daily.’
FanGraphs released their latest Top 100 prospects list, and it’s safe to say they’re quite high on both Nick Senzel and Taylor Trammell. With that said, they’re similarly a bit down on both Hunter Greene, Jonathan India, and Tony Santillan relative to where that trio has been ranked by others of late, though it is worth mentioning that they do have Tyler Stephenson among their Top 100, too.
Finally, our friends at Redleg Nation have an excellent look-back at the Reds offseason, and it’s well worth a read.