By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, pulling for Saint Peter’s because I have no real rooting interest after all my brackets have filled up a paper shredder.
—What do you get for $7.5 million these days? Not much if you are a major league baseball team. For the Cincinnati Reds it is a guy with a slash line last season of .229/.340/.383.
That would be 34-year-old outfielder Tommy Pham and those are the numbers he spliced together last season for the San Diego Padres.
When the Reds traded Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez, general manager Nick Krall said the team was below budget and now free to chase free agents. Pham is Krall’s ‘biggest’ catch so far.
The Reds have spent $14.825 million on free agents, with more than half lining Pham’s pockets. Of the 30 MLB teams, the Reds are 24th on the free agent spending list.
Oakland has spent zero, Cleveland has invested $900,000, Baltimore had doled out $7 million, Pittsburgh shelled out $12 million and Milwaukee handed out $12.9 million.
Notice: Three of the lowest spenders are from the National League Central — Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Cincinnati.
—What do Cam Bedrosian, Sal Romano, Carson Fullmer and Sean Doolittle have in common? After Cincinnati Reds starter Luis Castillo gave up 10 runs in 3 1/3 innings on Opening Day last year, those four relief pitchers followed him. And all four are long-gone from the Reds’ roster.
And when the Reds open the 2022 season in Atlanta April 7, Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez, Tucker Barnhart, Nick Castellanos and Alex Blandino won’t be with them. All five played in last season’s opener and all five are gone.
Yes, outfielders Winker and Castellanos are gone, but the Reds’ outfield still has more occupants than a small Belgian village.
They are. . .and hold your applause until the end: Nick Senzel, Tyler Naquin, Shogo Akiyama, Aristides Aquino, Max Schrock, Tommy Pham, TJ Friedl and Albert Almora Jr.
A few have to go. After last season, Akiyama has little trade value and would the club release him and munch on his $8 million salary? Aquino’s options have expired and if the Reds try to send him to the minors any team can claim him and send the Reds nothing in return — which is what most teams have been doing to the Reds.
—Jimmy Shapiro of Stuff Media Group and Las Vegas either forgot to look at the Cincinnati Reds roster or they believe there is a severe power outage in the lineup.
They have issued odds on what player will hit the most home runs in MLB this season. They listed 50 players and not one wears the Reds’ wishbone-C.
The top three are Vladimir Guerrero Jr., (7 to 1), Matt Olson (12 to 1) and Pete Alonso (12 to 1). At the bottom of the list are four players at 100 to 1 — Francisco Lindor, Frank Schwindel, Josh Donaldson and Mookie Betts. And no Reds in between.
—QUOTE: From Babe Ruth, who needs no introduction: “If I had tried for those dinky singles, I would have hit .600.” (Nobody was counting how many Samuel Adams Lagers The Bambino had destroyed when he made that statement.
—If you’ve read Scott Russell’s two books with Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee — The Spaceman Chronicles or The Last Odyssey of the Sweet Ride — you know that Lee is certifiable.
Lee is the Boston Red Sox pitcher who threw a blooper ‘eephus’ pitch in the 1975 World Series that Cincinnati’s Tony Perez knocked into Boston Harbor, where the ball got tea stains.
Of all of Lee’s absurdities in Russell’s excellent tomes, Lee said something positively intelligent about sports journalist/author Jane Leavy, who wrote the definitive autobiographies about Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth.
“Jane Leavy would make an excellent baseball commissioner,” said Lee. (Indeed, she would. And any woman named Jane would be better than Rob Manfred — Jane Curtin, Calamity Jane. . . even Jane Fonda.)
—QUOTE: From former pitcher Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee on the designated hitter: “It just prolongs the careers of guys who can’t play any more. Maybe we ought to adopt Little League rules where everybody has to play at least three innings a week.” (Shhh, Bill. Don’t give them any ideas.)
—Amir Garrett did a lot of talking when he was with the Reds, but was unable to back it up on the mound. It was Garrett who said last spring that the closer’s role was his. Then during the season he lad a boulder-sized egg.
What he is most remembered for is standing in front of the Pittsburgh dugout and challenging the entire Pirates roster to Wrestlemania on the Warning Track. And there is his never-ending squabbles with Chicago’s Javier Baez.
Well, spring training isn’t over and Garrett, now with Kansas City, is already chirping about Baez, now with Detroit.
“I’m going to remember battles that we’ve had and if you show me up, I’m going to show you up,” said Garrett. (In these days of bat-flipping and chest-thumping, what could possibly qualify as showing somebody up?)
—As any sports fan worth his/her team sweat shirt knows, Ohio State’s Jesse Owens won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, completely exasperating Adolph Hitler.
What most don’t know is that when Owen won the 200 meters, the silver medal second place winner was Mack Robinson, an older brother to Jackie Robinson.
—QUOTE: From Jackie Robinson, who needs no introduction: “Baseball is like a poker game. Nobody wants to quit when he’s losing and nobody wants you to quit when you’re ahead.” (Nobody ever accused Mr. Robinson of quitting at anything, on or off the field.)
—How could Saint Peter’s possibly lose Friday to Purdue in the NCAA tournament? It was National Peacock Day. No kidding and as Casey Stengel always said, “You could look it up.”
—How old are you if you remember carrying a key to your roller skates, playing with Tinkertoys and trying to build stuff with Erector sets? I had ‘em all.