View Full Version : Mailbag: Will Hamilton stick with Reds?

01-08-2007, 09:49 PM


Happy 2007, everyone!
I hope you all had an enjoyable holiday. Let's dive right in for the first Reds mailbag of the new year.

I have been following the Josh Hamilton story for years and recently saw he was acquired through the Rule 5 Draft. Do you think he has a real chance to stick with the Reds as a reserve/part-time outfielder this year?
-- David L., Kennesaw, Ga.

It would be a big-time feel-good story if Hamilton could make the Reds and stick on the 25-man roster for the whole season, which is the requirement for any Rule 5 pick. Otherwise, he goes back to his former organization (Tampa Bay). But the odds are tougher on Rule 5 position players, especially on National League clubs, where he can't be "hidden" as the 25th man and given limited chances in optimal situations.

NL managers, namely Jerry Narron, often use their whole roster in games with double switches, pinch-hitting for pitchers, etc. Dan Uggla (2005) of the Marlins is one prominent example of a Rule 5 guy who not only made it all season but became successful. Jay Gibbons (2000) also worked out for the Orioles.

Then there is Hamilton's personal history, namely his four-year layoff because of injuries and a drug suspension. Taking that into account, plus his rapid ascension from low-A ball to the Majors, really stacks the odds against him. The Reds took a low-risk flier on him, and if he has any of the ability left that made him the overall No. 1 pick in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, he could make the Spring Training roster moves quite interesting.

Now that the Reds have a good player in Jeff Conine, what is going to happen at first base with Scott Hatteberg? Conine has had some experience at first.
-- Brandon M., Cincinnati

Hatteberg will remain in the same role he occupied last season when he made a majority of the starts but was sometimes spelled by Rich Aurilia. Hatteberg, a lefty hitter, is stronger against right-handed pitching than lefties. Conine is a right-handed hitter who has a track record for hitting lefties and righties well. With Narron's penchant for using different lineups every day, I'd expect some mixing and matching depending on the opposition, or some sort of a platoon is possible, too. Don't forget that Conine can play both corner outfield spots, so I imagine he will get ample playing time in right field.

Are the Reds helping to push Dave Concepcion for the Hall of Fame?
-- Dave P., New Lexington, Ohio

Yes, they invited Concepcion to RedsFest last month and had a big promotional splash highlighting his merits for Cooperstown. Teammate and Hall of Famer Johnny Bench was among those who spoke on his behalf. Also, a Web site touting Concepcion's accomplishments was created. You can go to this Web site for more information.

Incidentally, the Hall of Fame election announcement show begins Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET and can be seen and heard live on MLB.com (shameless plug, sorry). If Concepcion is bypassed again, next year will be his 15th and final year of eligibility on the writers' ballot.

Do the Reds have any idea about who will be their closer this year? Our bullpen has been below average the last several years, and seems to be crowded with a bunch of soft-throwing, well-traveled, junk-balling has beens. I'll give credit where credit is due -- a few guys have been able to regain their old form -- like David Weathers. However, we haven't had a solid bullpen with a stud closer since the days of Jeff Brantley and Jeff Shaw. What are we doing about the bullpen, specifically the closer's role?
-- Jarrod Z., Cincinnati

My goodness. So how do you really feel, Jarrod?

If the season opened today, Weathers and lefty Mike Stanton would be sharing the ninth-inning duties. Lefty Bill Bray could also be in the mix. I have every reason to believe that the front office is continuing to explore the market for another closer candidate as well.

I agree with you on one point. Having one steady, reliable closer is huge, and the Reds haven't had one of those guys in either of the last two seasons. The bullpen seemed to flow best last year when Eddie Guardado was closing well at the back end, but that lasted barely more than a month when he blew out his elbow. I'm not a fan of closer by committee or even just two guys sharing the role. Name one guy and ride him as far as he'll go. This wasn't the right offseason for the Reds to be short a closer, since the pickings on the free-agent market are uber-thin.

I attend Spring Training games every year, but I am wondering if the spring practices before the preseason begins are open to the public? If so, what time are the practices usually held? Thanks for any help.

Pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota, Fla., on Feb. 17, with the full squad scheduled for Feb. 21. All of the workouts on the practice fields outside of Ed Smith Stadium are open to the public. They are always held in the morning, most often around 9 a.m., and are pretty much wrapped up by 1 p.m. at the latest.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

01-08-2007, 11:21 PM
I'd be shocked if he made the roster, this any kid has never had any success above A ball and that was 4 years ago. I would say he needs 2 more years in the minors at a minimum.

01-08-2007, 11:35 PM
Now that the Reds have a good player in Jeff Conine, what is going to happen at first base with Scott Hatteberg? Conine has had some experience at first.
-- Brandon M., Cincinnati

What -- what, I say.

01-08-2007, 11:49 PM
What -- what, I say.

Yeah. :all_cohol

01-09-2007, 12:36 AM
What -- what, I say.

That is the first thing that really struck a chord with me too.

01-09-2007, 08:08 AM
I will ignore the Conine comment, as it is obvious they guy misspelled "Votto".
I say give Hamilton a chance. The D-Rays seems to want him back big time, and, who knows....

Besides, I would rather he be given a chance before a grown man named Bubba.

Team Clark
01-09-2007, 10:31 AM
That is the first thing that really struck a chord with me too.

Almost made me think the person who penned that comment saw Conine as some sort of saviour. Holy Christmas!!!

01-09-2007, 11:43 AM
I did see this little blurb in Marc's story today

Josh Hamilton played in only 15 minor league games last season after returning from the suspended list, but the outfielder hasn't turned to winter ball to get back up to speed.

Hamilton, acquired by the Reds in a Rule 5 draft trade, has been going through a workout regimen at home with occasional visits from Reds manager Jerry Narron, a fellow North Carolina native.

"He's working out down in North Carolina," said Krivsky. "Jerry's been with him a few times. He's got a workout program, plus he's doing a lot of hitting, throwing and running."

Chip R
01-09-2007, 01:50 PM
What -- what, I say.

Must be a regular banana phone caller.

01-09-2007, 02:37 PM
Must be a regular banana phone caller.

They call it the banana phone for a reason


01-09-2007, 07:30 PM
I would much rather see Hamilton make the roster than Norris Hopper.

01-09-2007, 09:55 PM

01-10-2007, 08:45 AM
The Conine comment exemplifies the way the 'casual fan' in Cincinnati sees the Reds' moves so far, IMO. For all my unhappiness with Wayne this off-season, I have to admit he's playing to the perfect market with moves like he's made.

I thought Jarrod Z. was being kind regarding his summation of the Reds bully. :laugh:


01-10-2007, 10:39 AM
The Conine comment exemplifies the way the 'casual fan' in Cincinnati sees the Reds' moves so far, IMO.

So much for that whole "smartest fans in baseball thing". There are some seriously confused people out there.