Tag:Reds
Posted on: February 3, 2012 6:36 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 4:42 pm
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Public accountability part of Hamilton's recovery

Josh Hamilton

By C. Trent Rosecrans


The first time I met Josh Hamilton was the two days before pitchers and catchers reported in 2007. The Reds had acquired him from the Cubs after the Rule 5 draft and he was at the team's complex in Sarasota, Fla., working with manager Jerry Narron and Johnny Narron, who would go on to become what the Rangers would call his "accountability coach." I briefly saw Josh and was struck by the size of the guy -- if God were to build a baseball player, he'd look exactly like this -- minus the tattoos. That wasn't the first time I was shocked by Hamilton.

Josh Hamilton
Our first meeting was quick, we introduced ourselves and that was it. His full press conference and time to write the full Josh Hamilton story would come later. As the Reds beat writer for the Cincinnati Post, I'd be spending plenty of time with Hamilton in the next seven months or so, talking to him quite a bit and watching a budding superstar on the field.

Early in the first spring training, Hamilton held a press conference and said he'd take all questions. He went through his entire story, a story that has become widely known since then, but was incredible and fresh at the time. He was open, honest and above all, accountable for his own actions. At one point, he spoke about the guy who introduced him to drugs, who opened the door to his path of addiction. He made sure to note, the guy "wasn't a bad person, he was just into bad things." That always impressed me. Josh said he made the decision, he'd live the with the consequences and refused to blame anyone but himself for his addiction.

I only remember one question he wouldn't answer, it came after his press conference I went up to him and asked about specifics of which drugs he used and he said it didn't really matter, that wasn't the point -- but did note he never used a needle. I respected his wishes and left it alone.

Josh HamiltonAfter hours of writing, I wrote "the Josh Hamilton story" for my newspaper. It was long and didn't even come close to explaining the whole story, but I did my best and tried to do it justice. After that, all spring the story was about what he did on the field and it became evident that he'd not only make the team, but he'd be a big part of that year's team.

For a while, the Hamilton story went quiet, but once the regular season began, the "Josh Hamilton story" came up every time we went to a new city. The first game of every road series against a new team, Hamilton would hold another press conference, telling his story again and again. Throughout the season, he'd repeatedly tell the same stories, always smiling, always open, always honest. It was an incredible performance.

One day I asked him how he did it, if it ever got old? Was he sick of reliving his greatest mistakes and explaining himself in every new city? His answer shocked me -- he not only didn't mind doing it, he felt it was vital to his recovery.

"The media," I remember him telling me, "you, the other reporters, the fans -- everyone who hears my story holds me accountable. I want that, I need that."

I thought of that story two years ago when photos of him drinking at a bar in Arizona surfaced and I thought about it again last night when the reports surfaced that he'd relapsed and had a night of drinking. But it hit home when I saw it again today in his press conference. That was the same Josh Hamilton I heard many times, every time sincere, every time fighting his disease and blaming nobody but himself. And again, he said he needed help -- from the media, from the fans, from his family and from anyone who could help him. Addiction is a disease, one that is never cured, but managed. He's managed it well since 2007, but he's not cured and he never will be. But for now, as sad as I was to hear about his relapse, I'm happy to hear he's not only taking responsibility, but he's ready to continue his battle with addiction -- and if he doesn't win it, I hope he's always ahead in the count.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 10:49 pm
 

Reds sign Francis to minor-league contract

By Matt Snyder

Free agent pitcher Jeff Francis has signed a minor-league contract with the Cincinnati Reds, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned.

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Francis, a 31-year-old left-hander, was 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 91 strikeouts in 183 innings for the Royals last season. He was once an effective starter, but that was back in 2006-07 with the Rockies.

Not only that, but the Reds have plenty of starting pitching. Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto are the top two in the rotation, with Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey in tow as well. Plus, left-handed fireballer Aroldis Chapman is being converted to a starter this spring as well. So even if Francis gets a nod in the rotation before long reliever Sam LeCure, he is the seventh option.

On the other hand, Latos, Cueto, Arroyo, Leake and Bailey are all right handed. If Chapman doesn't cut it as a starter, it's entirely possible Francis gets a look as the fifth starter at some point, just to have a lefty in there.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:22 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 5:08 pm
 

Reds trade for infielder Wilson Valdez

By Matt Snyder

The Cincinnati Reds have acquired someone capable of playing shortstop, but this news may not appease the fan base. The Reds sent left-handed pitcher Jeremy Horst to the Phillies for utility infielder Wilson Valdez.

Valdez, 33, hit .249/.294/.341 with 14 doubles, four triples and one home run last year for the Phillies in 300 plate appearances. He appeared in at least 24 games each at third base, shortstop and second base. He even pitched an inning, funnily enough against the Reds, picking up the victory in a marathon 19-inning affair on May 25.

The Reds will mark Valdez's seventh team in seven big-league seasons. He's a career .243 hitter with a pretty terrible .621 OPS. His value lies in being able to adequately back up the three aforementioned infield positions.

Of course, the Reds still face a potential hole at shortstop. Young Zack Cozart underwent Tommy John surgery in August. Since he's not a pitcher, nor was the surgery in his throwing arm, he should be ready to start the season. The Reds have him slated as the opening-day starter. If there is a setback, however, the Reds appear to have both Paul Janish and now Valdez as options. But in the most basic sense, Valdez has been acquired merely for depth.

Horst, 26, appeared in 12 games for the Reds last season, sporting a 2.93 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in his 15 1/3 innings. In Triple-A, Horst had a 2.81 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 42 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings.

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Posted on: January 23, 2012 7:09 pm
 

Report: Cordero narrows field to four teams

By Matt Snyder

With Andrew Bailey traded and Ryan Madson's signing out of the way, the market for free agent closer Francisco Cordero has finally surfaced. The latest report comes from MLB.com and says that Cordero expects to sign by the end of this week. He is reportedly choosing from four suitors, including the Angels. The other three teams are not mentioned in the report.

If Cordero does land with the Angels, it wouldn't be surprising at all. They currently have Jordan Walden, Scott Downs and LaTroy Hawkins at the back-end of the 'pen and don't seem comfortable with any of the three closing. Walden did so last year and even made the All-Star team, but he blew 10 of his 42 save chances.

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It wouldn't be surprising if the 24-year-old Walden ended up being the Angels' closer of the future, as he has great stuff, but adding a veteran like Cordero would be preferable for manager Mike Scioscia.

Cordero, 36, had 37 saves in 43 chances with a 2.45 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 42 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings last season for the Reds. With 327 career saves, only the great Mariano Rivera has more among active pitchers.

As for who the other three interested teams are, your guess is as good as mine. The short list of teams who are in need of a closer (Astros, White Sox, Orioles) doesn't seem to include teams willing to spend. The Angels really seem like the most logical fit.

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 10:15 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 10:41 pm
 

Reds sign Ryan Ludwick to one-year deal

By Matt Snyder

The Cincinnati Reds have agreed to sign free agent outfielder Ryan Ludwick, confirms Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The move, which is pending a physical, was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Heyman reports the deal is for $2.5 million with $500,000 worth of incentives included.

Ludwick, 33, hit just .237/.310/.363 last season with 13 homers and 75 RBI, but the majority of his plate appearances came in Petco Park, which is death to power hitters. He hit .218 with only five home runs and a dreadful .658 OPS in 212 plate appearances at Petco. And as we all know, Great American Ball Park is a hitters' park. So this move should help him.

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Ludwick was an All-Star with St. Louis in 2008, slugging 37 homers and driving home 113 runs. Yes, he had the benefit of hitting in a lineup with Albert Pujols, but the Reds can surround him with the likes of Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips. Ludwick hasn't had another season anywhere close to being as good as 2008, but he was a productive offensive player throughout his Cardinals career. His return to the NL Central -- he was traded to the Pirates last July -- didn't go well, but it was a small sample of 113 plate appearances.

Expect Ludwick to get the overwhelming majority of the playing time in left field -- at least out of the gate -- with Chris Heisey serving as the fourth outfielder and Drew Stubbs in center.

Though the offseason started rather slowly, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has added Mat Latos, Sean Marshall, Ryan Madson and Ludwick to his ballclub in the past several weeks in an attempt to get the 2010 NL Central champs back into contention.

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 4:09 pm
 

Reds sign Navarro to minor-league deal

By Matt Snyder

The Cincinnati Reds have signed free agent catcher Dioner Navarro to a one-year, minor-league contract worth $800,000 -- with up to $200,000 available in incentives -- CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reports.

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Navarro, 27, was an All-Star for the Rays in 2008 but has fallen apart since then. He hit just .193/.276/.324 with five homers in 202 plate appearances last season for the Dodgers. In 754 plate appearances since 2008, Navarro is hitting .207/.267/.311.

It would appear Navarro is an insurance policy for the Reds. Highly-touted prospect Devin Mesoraco will get a shot quite soon and the Reds also have Ryan Hanigan. If it's decided in spring training that Mesoraco needs more time in the minors -- or he struggles in the majors and needs a demotion to regain his confidence -- Navarro and Hanigan could split time. It should be noted that Navarro is a switch hitter while both Hanigan and Mesoraco are right-handed, so it's possible Navarro gets some platoon time against right-handers at some point in the season.

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Posted on: January 15, 2012 12:28 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Hosmer or Votto?



By C. Trent Rosecrans


The gut reaction to today's Would You Rather Have is the easiest so far and probably the easiest of the entire series. But the gut reaction isn't always the easiest.

Today we look at two first basemen, Eric Hosmer of the Royals and Joey Votto of the Reds. While the easy answer is Votto -- the 2010 National League MVP -- the long view makes the question more difficult. The difference in players today isn't just what they can do on the field at the moment, it also includes the future and how long you can keep a player. So today's question isn't just Hosmer or Votto, it's better put as Would You Rather Have Hosmer for six years or Votto for two?

The case for Hosmer

Hosmer's case comes down to promise (and price). A rookie in 2011, Hosmer hit .293/.334/.465 with 19 homers and 78 RBI in 128 games -- a year before the Royals expected him to land in Kansas City. Hosmer, the third overall pick in the 2008 draft, hadn't played above Double-A before 2011. The Royals started him in Triple-A in 2011 despite a strong spring. He responded by dominating the Pacific Coast League in his first (and only month) at the highest level in the minors, hitting .439 and getting on base in more than half his plate appearances. The Royals promoted him to the big leagues in early May. Not only did he show he belonged, he got better as the season went on, finishing strong by hitting .349 with five homers in the last month of the season.

The case for Votto

This isn't tough -- the former MVP finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2008 when he put up a 125 OPS+ and hit 24 homers. That's been his worst season as a pro. In the last three years he's hit .318/.418/.565 with a 161 OPS+. Think his numbers are inflated by playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park? Think again -- in his career he's hit better away from GABP, hitting .296/.391/.534 in Cincinnati and .329/.418/.566 away from it. Coming up through the Reds' minor leagues, everyone knew Votto could hit, but the knock against him was his glove. Since then, he's turned into a Gold Glove first baseman.

Votto, though, may only be in Cincinnati two more years. Last winter he signed a three-year, $38 million deal covering his arbitration years, but none of his free agent years. Votto will be the premier free agent of the 2013 season at the age of 30 and he won't come cheap. In all likelihood, Votto's pricetag will be more than the Reds can afford and the team's first MVP since Hall of Famer Barry Larkin will be playing in a different uniform. While Votto will be making $9.5 million in 2012 and $17 million in 2013, Hosmer will be making near the league minimum -- and he'll be wearing Royal blue for the foreseeable future.

Our call

In the end, it probably comes down to your team. If you're the Reds and looking to win immediately, you'll take Votto. If you're building for the future and watching your pennies, like the Royals, it's Hosmer. In a vacuum, I'll take Votto for two MVP-caliber seasons over the potential for more in Hosmer. Hosmer's in the Show Me State, and Votto's already shown me he's one of the premier players in the game. But saying all this, I can see a scenario in 2015 that I'm looking back in regret over this choice.

Fan Vote: Would you rather have Hosmer for six years on your favorite team or Votto for two?



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Posted on: January 13, 2012 1:21 am
 

Report: Twins to host 2014 All-Star Game

Target Field

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Minneapolis' Target Field will host the 2014 All-Star Game, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted.

The Mets' Citi Field, as long assumed, will host the 2013 game with the Twins' new park hosting in the next season, according to Nightengale. Major League Baseball has yet to announce the awarding of the 2013 game, but it will still be held in New York at the Mets' new park. That little detail is holding up the official announcement of the 2014 game, as well.

The Mets haven't hosted an All-Star Game since 1964. Commissioner Bud Selig has hinted strongly the Mets would get the 2013 game.

The Twins haven't hosted an All-Star Game since 1985 when it was played at the Metrodome. The Twins also hosted the 1965 game at Metropolitan Stadium.

The Cubs had also been rumored to have bid on the 2014 game to celebrate the centennial of Wrigley Field. 

The National League and American League traditionally alternate hosting the game, but that tradition was broken in 2007 when the game was played in San Francisco (after being played in Pittsburgh in 2006) to accommodate the 2008 game to be held in the final season of old Yankee Stadium.

The Marlins and Rays are the only franchises to have never hosted the game, while the Nationals haven't hosted the game in the franchise's current home of Washington D.C., but the Expos hosted in 1982. Washington D.C. last hosted the game in 1969 when the current Rangers were the Washington Senators. The Padres, Phillies, Reds and Yankees haven't hosted the game at their current stadiums.

After the Mets host the All-Star Game in 2013, the Dodgers will become the franchise with the longest drought of hosting the game. The Dodgers haven't hosted the game since 1980.

The 2012 game will be held in Kansas City. That game was announced in June, 2010 -- roughly 25 months before the game was to be held. The 2013 game is 18 months away and it has yet to be announced. Last week the Sports Business Journal reported the hold up had nothing to do with the Mets ownership situation, but instead was the logistics of scheduling the event were making it difficult to make the game official. The 2008 game at Yankee Stadium was announced in January of 2007, as well.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com