Gangnam Style has just passed 2 billion views on YouTube. Luis Suarez just bit Giorgio Chiellini. NASA confirmed the presence of water on Mars, and the Marvel Universe was just beginning to gain steam - each of Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ranked among the Top 10 grossing movies worldwide.
We were blissfully unaware of how things would unravel in so many ways back in 2014, especially here in Cincinnati Reds-land. The brilliance and crushing collapse of 2012 was still very fresh in mind, but the club had still won 90 games in 2013 and tied down Joey Votto to a contract that would make him a Red for life, and there was a glimmer of optimism still permeating, even if Dusty Baker had been unceremoniously forced out.
The Reds had a solid core, for all you youngins who don’t recall. Votto and Phillips and Bruce and Mesoraco, with a starting rotation that had become the envy of the league under then pitching coach (and later manager) Bryan Price. The heart and soul of that era, though, could be found in the effervescence of infielder Todd Frazier and the guise and guile of Johnny Cueto, the ace the team had searched years to find.
Hey, that’s Johnny celebrating a Frazier blast at the 2014 Home Run Derby in Minneapolis. Y’all surely know how things went the next year in GABP.
2014 seems like an eon ago at this juncture. Of the 45 players who put on the Reds jersey in big league games that year, I’m pretty sure only Aroldis Chapman, Joey Votto, and Tucker Barnhart have big league jobs at the moment, with perilously few others even scattered among MiLB rosters, too.
Frazier is not among those - he officially announced his retirement this morning, as the New York Post relayed.
After 11 years, 25.2 bWAR, 218 dingers, a pair of All Star apperances, a Dinger Derby belt, a LLWS title, and a bit over $46 million in career earnings, Frazier’s hanging up his spikes for good at age 36. Many congrats to him for such a well-earned ability to call time on his own terms, and for providing such a big spark at a big time in this franchise’s history. I’d go on to dole out more well-wishes to him on social media, but he’s had a good portion of the Reds-based blogging community blocked on Twitter for years, so I cannot.
He did agree to speak with Charlie Goldsmith of The Enquirer, however, so you can get a bit more insight into his decision there.
As for Cueto, well, he’s not yet on a big league roster for the upcoming season, but as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported late last night, he’s in agreement on a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox. The Sox just lost veteran stalwart Lance Lynn for what could be a couple of months in a leg-tendon calamity, so they’re in the market for an arm who can pile up the IP, and Cueto should (in theory) provide them with an option. He’ll have to ramp up in the minors, first, but at least it appears he’s going to get a crack at a 15th year in the bigs at age 36, and I could not be happier for him.
Speaking of the minors, the minor league seasons begin today, even though the Reds haven’t announced enough roster moves to truly let us know who’s going to be on what team in what roles just yet. The AAA Louisville roster page is a mess, for now, with many names listed there who we know will actually be with the Reds once they clear up their administrative-moves. Either way, they’ll be up against St. Paul tonight at home for their opener at 6:35 PM ET, I believe.
In other news, Brewers catcher Pedro Severino landed an 80-game suspension this morning after testing positive for a banned substance, and as The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans adeptly noted, Andrew Knapp - who just missed on a big league job with the Reds in a battle with Aramis Garcia - has an opt-out clause in his contract. Catching depth is impossible to find these days, and since big league jobs pay more than MiLB ones, this might be something...
Emily DeLetter of The Enquirer is at GABP today as the Reds unveil their new in-park food options for the 2022 season, and has a Twitter thread featuring some of those. Back in the day, we at RR used to get yearly invites to attend this event. I think that must have been back around 2014, too. At Reds unveiled a few, too:
If you weren't craving ballpark food before, you will be now. pic.twitter.com/GkwJkJUADf— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) April 5, 2022
Finally, here’s the 2022 preview from Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, one that includes some interesting comments from manager David Bell about the Reds willingness to do some running on the bases again this year. With the additions of Tommy Pham and Jake Fraley and, dear god, the presumed health from Nick Senzel, that trio joins Jonathan India (and eventually Jose Barrero) as a core who could swipe the heck outta some bags this year. That’d be fun.
P.S. Today is Barrero’s 24th birthday. Happy birthday, Jose!