By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave while wondering why the Cincinnati Reds drafted Cotton-Eyed Joe in the Rule 5 draft. What? His name is Connor Joe? Never mind.
—The Cincinnati Reds left Las Vegas with a mid-rotation pitcher, Tanner Roark, and a guy named Connor Joe. No, not Joe Connor. It really is Connor Joe.
The Reds selected him in the Rule 5 draft from the Los Angeles Dodgers and he is a former No. 1 draft pick.
Not only is his name confusing, so is his position. He was listed as a catcher at the draft, but he is more of an infielder-outfielder. He has never caught in a professional game, but is working at the position and did catch in the Cape Cod League.
As a Rule 5 pick, the Reds pay the Dodgers $100,000 and must keep him on the 25-man roster for the entire 2019 season. If they place him on waivers and nobody claims him, the Reds must offer him back to the Dodgers fr $50,000.
It was two years ago that the Reds selected Stuart Turner in the Rule 5 draft and kept him on the roster all season, although he seldom played.
Joe, 26, was a first round pick (39th overall) out of the University of San Diego in 2014 by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He was dealt to the Atlanta Braves in a trade that sent Sean Rodriguez to the Pirates. Then was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for international bonus pool space.
He mostly has played first base and third base in the minor and has dabbled in right field and left field.
So with the winter baseball meetings concluded, the Reds came home without a marquee starting pitcher and with a hole at center field.
There was not a whole lot accomplished at the winter meetings by most teams, other than a lot of rumor-mongering.
The luxury-priced free agents, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, remain unsigned. And pitcher Dallas Keuchel has not declared for any team.
There are a lot of things still in the fire for all teams, still time to give fans a nice Christmas gift.
—QUOTE: From former Dodgers general manager Buzzie Bavasi on trying to trade Cincinnati native Don Zimmer after Zimmer said to play him or trade him: “We played him and now we can’t trade him.” (Remember what Cincinnati Reds utility player Chico Ruiz said when the Reds began playing him? He said, “Bench me or trade me.”)
—Writer Ryan Fagan’s lede on a story about the baseball shift is one I wish I had written. Fagan’s lede: “For some of the baseball lifers, ‘shift’ has become a bad word. It’s as if the ‘f’ isn’t even in there.”
—QUOTE: From Texas Rangers’ first baseman-third baseman-outfielder Joey Gallo when asked about banning the shift, he said, “That’s all I want for Christmas.” (Maybe the Rangers can send him a manual on how to hit the ball the other way against the shift or how to bunt.)
—After reading my blog on the Reds acquiring pitcher Tanner Roark from the Washington Nationals, former Cincinnati Reds manager Ray Knight, now a Nationals broadcaster, sent a scouting report.
“He can pitch,” said Knight. “Tough as nails and a great pro. For those two (good) years, I trusted him to go seven innings and give up two, maybe three runs.
“The last two years he has had trouble with mechanics and been streaky. He is a great fielding pitcher and can hit. He does give you an honest effort every time,” Knight added.
The trade of Tanner Rainey by the Reds to the Nats for Tanner Roark might be the first straight-up trade for both guys with the initials T.R. and certainly is the first trade a team made that sent Tanner to a team for Tanner.
—When Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield has his team in the red zone, he sees red. And he turns defenders’ faces red.
Over the past five games, the Browns’ wonder child has been Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers rolled into one in the red zone. He is 11-of-13 for 120 yards with nine touchdown passes. His passer rating of 144.7 in the red zone is the best in the NFL by more than 11 points.
And those two passes he missed? They were dropped by the receivers.
—QUOTE: From former NFL coach Don Shula: “Sure, luck means a lot in football. Not having a good quarterback is bad luck.” (The Browns have had about two decades of bad luck.)