Reds Winter Caravan:Louisville

So yesterday was the start of the Reds Winter Caravan and one of the first stops was Louisville Slugger Field.  The event was held in the ballpark’s foyer (think concrete slab floor, florescent lights) as opposed to the last two years at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.  The event was moved due to renovations to the factory site to make room for new exhibits coming this summer.

The caravan carrying Chris Dickerson, Jerry Hairston, Yonder Alanso, Jeff Brantley,  Dusty and George Grande arrived forty-five minutes late to the site since they were held up at a Frankfort, KY radio station.

A great majority of the crowd (about 600 or so) was there seeking autographs and were lined up even before the caravan arrived.

One thing that stood out was the fact that while there were some kids, there wern’t many.  At 4:30 in the afternoon it is a horrible time to have an event like this as it should have been scheduled for a time when more people could get out of work or school so that they could drive to the stadium.  There wasn’t much promotion of the event which was strange.

The one bit of good news was when CEO Bob Castellini announced that the Reds and Bats are going to extend their relationshiop through the 2012 season.  This is big news and it is nice to know that we’ll be able to see many of the Reds up and coming prospects for the next several years.  I don’t really know how I would feel about going to games if the Bats were affiliated with another team.

Notable Quotes:

From Dusty

“I won’t put a governor on them. I want them to use their arms, legs, bats, everything in order to win”

Translation: CREATE HAVOC!

Jerry Hairston:

“We are young, but talented.  There is a difference”

Yeah, and Grizzly Adams had a beard.

Other than Dusty babbling about winning and going to the inauguration on Tuesday with his son, George Grande took only one question from those assembled.  It was about the radio affiliate (not from me) and pretty much dismissed it by saying, “The Reds are doing everything to bring Reds fans the best radio and TV coverage”.  Joe Zerhusen, the broadcast affiliate manager, was also in attendance.  Presumeably he will be around tonight checking various spots in the city for the horrible reliablity of the signal and continue to see if there are other options for another affiliate.

All in all it was a poorly timed event that seemed hastily put together with little fanfare or excitement.  The people running the caravan should have put more into the event (promotion) and at the very least they should have apologized for being late.

When you give out free copies of Baseball America’s NL Central prospect report that says, “Reds are a long way away”, while trying to promote the team as a winner, you have some serious problems.

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25 Days and Counting

With football nearly over and college basketball (admittedly my favorite sport) in full swing, it is time to look forward to spring training in just 25 days until pitchers and catchers report.

I came across this article in the Hearld Tribune about the the city of Sarasota still receiving money from the state of Florida despite not going ahead with plans to build a new stadium.

For nearly two years, Sarasota has been getting a monthly check of $41,667 from the state to finance a stadium deal with the Cincinnati Reds deal.

— snip —

All the while, though, those monthly checks kept coming in and now amount to $958,341. Fort Lauderdale has also been getting monthly checks and has not been able to reach a deal to keep the Orioles.

It is not free money, though. It can only be spent on a stadium deal that includes at least a 15-year lease.

The one catch: The state cannot get back the money that it has already paid out to the city.  Sort of.

Of course, since the Legislature wrote the original loopholed law, it can just write a new one requiring Sarasota and/or Fort Lauderdale to give the money back.

I can’t believe that the citizens of Florida would be happy with $1MM in funds just sitting in Sarasota with no way to spend it given the economic hit that the state has taken over lost tourism dollars.

Woman Finds “Red Stocking” Card

Bernice Gallego, 80, is one lucky woman.

From the Fresno Bee:

She dug into a box and pulled out a baseball card. She stopped for a moment and admired the picture. “Red Stocking B.B. Club of Cincinnati,” the card read, under a sepia tone photo of 10 men with their socks pulled up to their knees. The card itself was dirty and wrinkled in a few places.

Are you kidding me!?

This card, she figured, was worth selling on eBay.

She did what she does with most items: Took a picture, wrote a description and put it up for auction. She put a $10 price tag on it, deciding against $15 because it would have cost her an extra 20 cents.

Later that night she got a few odd inquiries — someone wanting to know whether the card was authentic, someone wanting her to end the auction and sell him the card immediately.

Hopefully someday all my 80s and 90s Topps cards will start to go up in value instead of only being worth the paper they are printed on.

(Photo: Craig Kohlruss/Fresno Bee)

H/T: Deadspin

ESPN Feeling Heat from MLB-N?

It looks like ESPN has taken a cue from the launch of MLB-N on New Years Day and has tried to upgrade their hot stove coverage.

ESPN has just now started to advertise their new Hot Stove show on Tuesday nights starting at 6 PM.  This show would run in competition with MLB-N’s 24-hour coverage of the league and all the happenings going on this off season.

They have also announced that starting January 5th, ESPN Classic will run a MLB game of the week that be shown every Monday night until opening day.

Competition is good and now Baseball Tonight will have to step its game up and (hopefully) cover more teams other than the big four (NYY, Boston, Cubs, Mets).

Hopefully Insight Communications will get enough requests from customers so that they will add it to their regular line-up and I can get a glimpse of what everyone is talking about.

Rays Sign Burrell, Bradley to Cubs

Looks like two of the options that the Reds were looking to upgrade with are off the table.

Pat Burrell has signed a two-year, $8MM deal with the Rays.  He will probably be their DH.

Milton Bradley has signed a three-year, $30MM deal with the Cubs. (I can’t wait until he and Sweet Lou are at each other’s throat in the dugout)

Not that either of them would have been a huge upgrade, but it would have been nice to have some other options than Andruw Jones.

M’s Hire Tom Tango

A team and organization that gets it.

From U.S.S. Mariner

I think it’s fair to say that, right now, Tom is the leading analyst of the day in public advancement of statistical analysis. If you wanted to know what the best practice for current analysis is, you wouldn’t go to Bill James or Nate Silver, you’d go to Tom Tango. He’s the gold standard of analysts publishing their work, and he’s made significant strides in pushing forward the understanding of baseball through his writings.

–snip–

If you weren’t already completely convinced, this should do it – the M’s are now one of the best run teams in baseball. They’ve implemented processes based on logic, reason, and evidence that will lead to positive results. They understand good analysis from bad analysis, and are pushing forward the organization’s ability to create new information and exploit their resources.

The Reds must invest in statistical analysis and data sorting or else risk falling further behind. I don’t doubt that they do some currently, but at some point they must make a hire and change the organizational focus.

The Rays, Indians, and to a degree the Pittsburgh Pirates are all looking for an edge in order to improve their current teams as well as the future by drafting using statistical analysis and scouting.

Just like fans clamoring for Mike Brown to hire a GM and scouts for the Bengals, Reds fans should start howling about the “old-school” baseball mentality if this team ever wants to be competitive again.

Unfortunately, a certain broadcaster and crotchety old newspaper columnist probably would run that way of thinking (statistical analysis) out of town much like Paul DePodesta was treated in Los Angeles.

If you are a buisness trying to gain a larger market share and to beat out the competition, wouldn’t you at least try a new approch when what you are currently doing is failing?

MLB-N Launch

For those who, like me, don’t get the MLB-N with your cable provider, Awful Announcing has posted a video clip of what we missed.

If you go to the MLB-N website, you can check the availablity in your area and even send in a request to your cable provider (I did it for Insight Communications) so that they know you want MLB-N.