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02-24-2008, 01:31 PM
Reds Team Report
Yahoo! Sports

Inside Pitch

The possible signing of 40-year-old outfielder and leadoff hitter Kenny Lofton remains on the front burner, as far as new manager Dusty Baker is concerned.

And you can add the name of Corey Patterson to Baker’s possible wish list. Both are free agents and both played for Baker in the past—Lofton in San Francisco and Chicago, Patterson with the Cubs.

“I’ve talked to Lofton and there is still a chance we can sign him,” Baker said. “Patterson, too. It’s a matter of our budget and how it all fits. Right now, we don’t have a roster spot for Lofton, and he would like a major league contract.

“We’re still trying to get pieces of the puzzle together,” Baker added.

Finding a leadoff hitter like Lofton is a Baker priority.

“A leadoff hitter is the most underestimated position in baseball,” the manager said. “You have to have one, but they are hard to find.”

Where, When: Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Fla. First exhibition game is Feb. 28 against Philadelphia.

Top Candidate To Surprise: SS Alex Gonzalez had a down year, missing considerable time due to the illness of his infant son, which distracted him from his play on the field. Look for him to return to his slicking fielding and a combination of a good batting average and good power.

Top Candidate To Disappoint: 3B Edwin Encarnacion has been expected to blossom into a major league star, but he has shown only flashes. Last year he was demoted to Class AAA Louisville as a wake-up call, and that worked for the rest of the season. If he doesn’t fully concentrate and eliminate the mental lapses, he could disappoint again.

Authority Figures: After sitting out a year, Dusty Baker returns to managing to lead the Reds, bringing with him a 1,162-1,041 record over his years as manager of the Giants and Cubs. He has won three division titles and appeared in one World Series as a manager. Baker brings to the Reds a name manager they’ve lacked since Jack McKeon. Pitching coach Dick Pole remains in place. He has previous experience with Baker in Chicago. Baker also retained hitting coach Brook Jacoby, third base coach Mark Berry and first base coach Billy Hatcher, and he brought in Chris Speier as his bench coach.

Notes, Quotes

• OF Craig Wilson, who was in camp on a minor league contract, was released. He had signed with the Reds earlier this month.

• RHP Josh Fogg joined the Reds’ crowded rotation battle, agreeing to a one-year deal. In 29 starts for Colorado last year, Fogg finished 10-9 with a 4.94 ERA. According to the Rocky Mountain News, the Rockies were prepared to re-sign him to a one-year, $5 million deal earlier in the offseason, but Fogg believed he’d find a better offer on the free agent market. The newspaper quoted a source saying his deal in Cincinnati has a base pay of $1 million.

• 2B Brandon Phillips avoided arbitration by agreeing to a four-year, $27 million contract, with a team option for 2012.

He scored 107 runs and drove in 94 last year, batting cleanup for much of the second half of the season. That’s in addition to his 30 homers and 32 steals.

Defensively, he probably should have won the Gold Glove but didn’t, even though he led all National League second basemen with a .990 fielding percentage while making only eight errors. He wandered near and far to make spectacular plays.

• LHP Bobby Livingston was placed on the 60-day disabled list on Feb. 21 to clear a roster spot for RHP Josh Fogg.

Livingston will be able to do everything all the pitchers do this spring except throw off the mound, even though team physician Tim Kremchek said the lefty’s shoulder looks great. Livingston won three games over 10 starts last season before Kremchek performed surgery on his left shoulder in August.

• RHP Todd Coffey lost 25 pounds over the winter with a nutritionist and a personal trainer, getting back to his 2006 weight of 240 after ballooning to 265 and pitching ineffectively in 2007.

• INF Juan Castro, who underwent Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery last August, has been given the go-ahead to do all workouts in spring training. He said he plans to go easy at first, although he felt no pain or discomfort throwing 120 feet at 80 percent.

• INF/OF Ryan Freel, OF Norris Hopper and OF Jay Bruce are the top candidates to play center field, and whoever lands the job is the favorite to be the leadoff hitter. “Bruce already has volunteered to bat leadoff, even though he has never done it,” manager Dusty Baker said.

—RHPs Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang, Matt Belisle, Homer Bailey and Edinson Volquez and LHP Jeremy Affeldt are manager Dusty Baker’s candidates for the rotation, “with rookie Johnny Cueto having an outside chance, because you always look for surprises and you like to have surprises.”

By The Numbers: 6—Times the Reds were shut out in 2007.

Quote To Note: “With the offense of this team, I was shocked to see that it was shut out six times last year, way too many. When you get shut out, you have no chance.” —New manager Dusty Baker.

Roster Report

Starting pitching and relief pitching were the biggest needs this winter, and the club signed free agent closer Francisco Cordero, traded OF Josh Hamilton to the Rangers for RHP Edinson Volquez and signed free agent LHP Jeremy Affeldt, a reliever the team plans to try in the rotation. The club could use more bullpen help.

Arrivals: RHP Francisco Cordero (free agent from Brewers), LHP Jeremy Affeldt (free agent from Rockies), RHP Edinson Volquez (trade with Rangers).

Departures: LHP Phil Dumatrait (claimed off waivers by Pirates), INF Pedro Lopez (claimed off waivers by Blue Jays), LHP Mike Gosling (claimed off waivers by Blue Jays), OF Buck Coats (traded to Blue Jays), OF Jason Ellison (free agent, signed minor league contract with Rangers), OF Josh Hamilton (traded to Rangers), INF Jorge Cantu (released, signed with Marlins), LHP Eddie Guardado (free agent, signed with Rangers), LHP Eric Milton (free agent, unsigned).

Spring Focus: New manager Dusty Baker will be a busy man. He must find a leadoff hitter, and the only player with experience in that slot is OF/INF Ryan Freel, who probably won’t start. And with only two accomplished starters, RHP Aaron Harang and RHP Bronson Arroyo, Baker must find three more starters among five candidates.

Projected Rotation:

1. RHP Aaron Harang

2. RHP Bronson Arroyo

3. RHP Matt Belisle

4. RHP Homer Bailey

5. LHP Jeremy Affeldt

Affeldt hasn’t started much in recent years, pitching mostly out of the bullpen, but the Reds plan to give him a shot at the rotation, and he’s happy to have the chance. The club is counting on the emergence of Belisle and Bailey to solidify what appears to be a two-man rotation of Harang and Arroyo.

Projected Bullpen:

RHP Francisco Cordero (closer)

RHP David Weathers

LHP Mike Stanton

LHP Bill Bray

RHP Todd Coffey

RHP Gary Majewski

The bullpen was baseball’s worst last year, but the team signed free agent Cordero as its closer, enabling everybody to move back a slot—Weathers from closer to his more comfortable setup role. Veteran Stanton and youthful Bray give the club solid left-handed help.

Projected Lineup:

1. 2B Brandon Phillips

2. CF Jay Bruce

3. RF Ken Griffey Jr.

4. LF Adam Dunn

5. 3B Edwin Encarnacion

6. 1B Joey Votto

7. SS Alex Gonzalez

8. C David Ross

The team has no legitimate leadoff hitter, although Phillips has done it. He mostly batted cleanup last year and would prefer to stay there, but the team may have no choice because there are no other candidates if OF Ryan Freel can’t beat out rookie Bruce for the center field spot.

Projected Reserves:

C Javier Valentin

INF Jeff Keppinger

OF Norris Hopper

INF Juan Castro

1B Scott Hatteberg

OF/INF Ryan Freel

The bench should be one of the best in years because all six have had experience as starters, with Keppinger, Hopper, Hatteberg and Freel starting several games the past two years.

Top Rookies: RHP Homer Bailey, 1B Joey Votto and CF Jay Bruce all figure prominently in 2008. Votto will be the starting first baseman after a sensational September last year. Bruce could be the starting center fielder after being named the top minor league player last year by two major publications. Bailey had two stints in the rotation last year and did well in September. He is seemingly poised to grab a permanent spot in the rotation.

Medical Watch:

LHP Bobby Livingston (left shoulder surgery in September 2007) was placed on the 60-day disabled list on Feb. 21. He could be ready by May.

OF Ryan Freel (right knee surgery in August 2007) is expected to be ready by spring training.

INF Juan Castro (Tommy John elbow surgery in August 2007) should be ready by spring training.

I feel sick to my stomach that Castro might make the team. He's a waste of space all of us fans can see that I don't know why the Reds can't see it. I might go crazy if I see Castro pinch hitting for Jay Bruce I swear.

02-24-2008, 02:12 PM
This guy doesn't have Volquez as part of the team. It's clear that he doesn't follow the Reds. This piece has very little credibility. Just look at the bullpen... no Burton.

02-24-2008, 02:41 PM
That's a decent summary from somebody who likely didn't watch too many Reds games last year. Burton will defenitly be in the bullpen, he probably just didn't see him on the stat sheet. I would be really happy if his predictions on Votto, Bruce, and Bailey work out though. They all should get good time. I would have liked to see Volquez at the five spot in the rotation though.