Brandon Phillips is Our Homeboy

A day after Valentines, the Reds are showing second baseman Brandon Phillips the love by signing him to a 4 year contract worth an estimated $27 million to avoid arbitration and to lockup one of the brightest stars of the Reds’ roster.

A CFT favorite, Phillips came to Cincinnati near the beginning of the 2006 after the Cleveland Indians were upset by his slow start.  Sent over for a player to be named later (Jeff Stevens), Phillips won over the hearts of Reds fans by his dynamic defense and instant offensive burst he showed in the first few weeks of being in Cincinnati. 

Known for being a sully character in the clubhouse, Brandon has shown absolutely none of the bad attitude that he was said to of had and has been smiling ever since.  We can’t remember a time that the camera has been on Phillips and he hasn’t had a huge grin on his face. 

John Fay wrote down some quotes from Brandon after the deal was done in his Reds Insider blog.

“The Reds gave me a second chance,” he said. “They opened up the door for me. The fans welcomed me with open arms. I want to make sure I give back to them. I want to do community service. I want to give back to the community. I’m going to do many things in the city. I’m going to go to certain places and try to find me a field. I want people to know who I am. I want to bring more people to the stadium. I want to be how Barry Larkin was.” 

Brandon had an awesome year last year with a 30-30 year and we hope those types of numbers can continue.  We would like to see a higher OBP (.331 last season) which would raise his value tremendously. 

We will have more on Phillips and the rest of the Reds crew in our season/spring training preview in the next few days.

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Ryan Dempster, My New Favorite Cub

Seriously?

Dempster Thinks Cubs Will End Drought, Win World Series

“A year ago in spring training, it was Carlos Zambrano guaranteeing the Cubs would win the World Series.

Dempster made no guarantees, but he’s convinced the centurylong drought will end.

“I wouldn’t show up here and work as hard as I did and everybody work as hard as they did to not believe that,” he added.

Reminded that Zambrano’s prediction fell short, Dempster didn’t back down.

“And we were close, maybe we need some more guys saying it,” he said. “You see these teams and they come together, they battle together and they endure through everything and they start believing that they are that good.”

Inside ESPN’s “College Gameday”

ESPN’s College Gameday, the basketball version of the football hype-machine, visited Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday as it prepared for the primetime match-up between Louisville at Georgetown.

The doors opened promptly at 9:30, a full hour and a half before airtime, with promises of doughnuts and orange juice for whoever showed up. I guess we should have gotten there early because everything was devoured about fifteen minutes later when we finally arrived.

Digger Phelps, one of the hosts of the show, was pumping up the crowd of nearly 5,000 rabid U of L fans (mostly students) who made signs, dressed up in Cardinal gear, and did anything to get on TV. Phelps, who has the odd habit of coordinating his tie with the highlighter (or is it the other way around?) during the telecasts, was the main cheerleader for the crowd. This is understandable since Jay Bilas, Gameday’s resident negative Nancy was the brunt of most of the jokes from U of L fans in attendance.

Bilas was dominated by Louisville center Pervis Ellison during the 1986 NCAA National Championship game while a member of the Duke Blue Devils. Naturally, he picked Georgetown to win the game. Either he is still bitter about 1986 or he was just playing his role as the scripted contrarian like ESPN has him doing throughout most of the broadcasts he is a part of.

Our biggest complaint about Bilas is he constantly wants to be critical over every little thing in college basketball, yet he never pressed Bob Knight about him quitting in the middle of the season so that his son could take over the team during his “interview”. Perhaps ESPN is making him be the new standard bearer of college basketball since Dick Vitale has been away due to his illness, but Bilas takes it to a whole new level of idiocy.

Hubert Davis was the most vanilla of the group and never says anything controversial. We didn’t see him get up once to pump up the crowd or even look in our direction. Neither he nor Reece Daivs, the show’s elf like host, got out of their chairs one time during the nearly 2 hours that we hung around Freedom Hall.

While it was nice that they did show the entire show above on the Pepsi Vision inside the arena, boom mics and obnoxious signs blocked our view during the time when the crew wasn’t discussing Bobby Knight retiring, excuse me, resigning or why Duke and North Carolina should win a dual National Championship.

Before the actual broadcast, there was a game of knock-out where if the shooter behind the one in front of him makes a basket, the shooter in front is eliminated. Also a sign contest and best dressed fan also were time killers. All of the signs had to be approved and stamped with a sticker so that the production crew knew which signs were okay for air and those who were there to cause trouble.

Some of the funny signs:

T-Will > Chuck Norris

Rick Pitino’s Hit List

Dude, What’s A Hoya?

The most disappointing among all this was there was no Erin Andrews appearance made. None. This is what we got out of bed for. This is what we charged up our cameras for. You would think that with all the college-aged guys the big draw would be the former University of Florida cheerleader. Nope. Not even a glimpse of ESPN’s #1 sideline eye candy. This is too bad because an appearance by Andrews would have certainly made it worth it.

-Photo via Courier-Journal.com

Lazy Sunday News and Links…Again

New Reds

The Reds have singed a bunch of players to new contracts with invites to spring training.

Veteran Craig Wilson, who plays in the outfield and first base, was signed on Feb. 9th. Some see this move as a possible impetus to a deal that would involve Joey Votto packaged with some others in order to acquire Joe Blanton from the A’s. John Fay is also reporting that Billy Beane is also asking for Johnny Cueto and another player to be included in a deal. In our opinion, this would be a colossal mistake and hopefully Krivsky will keep his head and not pull the trigger.

From a Reds Press Release:

“Blanton, who signed a one-year, $3.7 million contract with the A’s on Jan. 18 to avoid arbitration, would be a boost in the No. 3 spot. The right-hander was 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA in 230 innings pitched last season. He walked just 40 batters and struck out 140 but one red flag was his 5.11 ERA on the road compared to 2.69 at home.”

On February 1st, the Reds signed LHP Scott Sauerback and C Paul Bako. Both were invited to soak in the sun down in Sarasota. Sauerback might be an option down in the bully to give Dusty Baker the option of not bringing in Mike Stanton.

The Reds also signed grizzled vet Kent Merker to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Merker did not pitch in 2007 due to injury and more than likely will not make the roster.

Spring Training on TV

We are super excited about the possibility about seeing some live spring training games this spring. FSN Ohio, which expanded its regular season last year, will broadcast three spring games.

 

March 10 vs. Yankees (7:15 PM)

March 17 vs. Tigers (1:05 PM)
March 24 vs. Blue Jays (7:05 PM)

 

This is one of the best things that has happened since the new ownership group took over. Expanding coverage during the regular season and now spring training will certainly help grow the fan base some. However, putting a winning product on the field will be the biggest boost. Speaking of which….

FSN Ohio Classic Reds

We failed to mention this a few weeks back but FSN Ohio has been playing Classic Reds games. We guess this is another attempt to drum up support for the upcoming season. They have played Pete’s 4192 hit game, Game 4 of the 1990 World Series, and Tom Seaver’s no-hitter.

Tomorrow night they will replay the 2006 Reds vs. Indians game in which Adam Dunn hits a grand slam off closer Bob Wickman to win the game. This was one of the most dramatic comebacks in recent memory due to the Reds being down and out early in the ballgame. We considering doing a sorta-live blog of the game as it goes down, trying to recall how we felt during the game and its amazing conclusion. Stay tuned for that.

Tonya Harding Appears In KY. Go Figure.

An article from this morning’s Courier-Journal reveals that Tonya Harding, made famous for the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, made an appearance at a Meade Co. bar.

This is embarrassing.

Reds Prospects: Baseball Prospectus Top 100

Baseball Prospectus released their top 100 prospects list and the top spot wasn’t at all surprising.  Jay Bruce, Baseball America’s Minor League Play of the Year topped the list. 

1. Jay Bruce, of, Reds

9. Homer Bailey, rhp, Reds

21. Joey Votto, 1b, Reds

41. Johnny Cueto, rhp, Reds 

Not bad.  Four in the top 50, two in the top 10 is not a bad thing at all.  Hopefully, the Reds can continue to draft well and develop players so they can see the same amount of success that other teams with strong minor league systems (Arizona, Colorado) have seen over the past few years.

Reds Spring Training in Arizona

CFT is back from our break after being in Colorado for about five days.  That and the fact that there hasn’t been a lot of Reds news leading up to the final weeks before spring training opens in Sarasota. 

In fact, we thought we would look at spring training specifically and the fact that the Reds are in talks right now with the city of Goodyear, Arizona after Sarasota, Florida, home of Reds Spring Training since 1998, has decided not to upgrade and refurbish Ed Smith Stadium.

Last November Sarasota residents voted down a tax revenue bond to fund upgrades to Ed Smith Stadium that was in bad disrepair.  One of the major issues that the stadium had was that it did not comply with federal mandates of the Americans Disabilities Act which requires facilities to be fully accessible to those with handicaps.  There were several votes on the issue this January trying to find a solution about what percentage the city would be willing to pay for the upgrades but the Reds and city board members reached an impasse just a few days ago.  Both sides were very far apart on the amount of money each were to contribute to the project, and thus the Reds started looking elsewhere.

Former COO John Allen was retained by the Reds to spearhead the search committee and look for a new spring home.  Goodyear, Arizona, which is a suburb west of Phoenix, recently approved a deal that would bring the Cleveland Indians, who start in Goodyear in 2009, to the desert with a brand new stadium.  The Reds would share that stadium. 

On January 29th, the Reds signed an exclusivity agreement with the city of Goodyear that says the Reds can not talk or negotiate with any other city or individual about a future spring training home.  Goodyear has 45 days to come up with a funding proposal for facilities that will be used exclusively for the Reds.

One of the major arguments against moving spring training to Arizona is obviously the distance from Cincinnati.  Many of the facilities that the Reds used in Sarasota were also used for the rookie development league as well as injury re-habilitation assignments.  By having to move some of those facilities across the country, the travel costs for the team would skyrocket.  Also, the distance would obviously prohibit families from making the trip when most families also use the time in February and March to visit Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in nearby Orlando. 

All indications point to a deal being done because quite frankly Sarasota hasn’t shown any desire for increased taxes and bonds that would fund at least an upgrade to Ed Smith Stadium.  Why go someplace where you aren’t wanted?