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Cincinnati Reds Christmas Wish List
With Shin-Soo Choo signing a seven-year deal with the Texas Rangers recently and Christmas being tomorrow, I began to think about what would be on the Cincinnati Reds Christmas List. I wanted to be as realistic as possible when thinking about the things that the Reds would like for Christmas.
Billy Hamilton to be the next Ichiro
Ok so maybe not the next Ichiro, but someone that can have an On Base Percentage above the league average. Billy Hamilton showed in late September what kind of an impact he can have when he is on base. Hamilton appeared in 13 games for the Reds in 2013 and only started in three of the 13 games. Hamilton had 13 steals in 14 attempts with 22 plate appearances resulting in seven hits with two walks.
His plate appearances with the Reds in 2013 are an extremely small sample size. However, his numbers from AAA Louisville Bats show a lot more of what to expect from Hamilton. In 547 plate appearances, he had a batting average of .256 and an on base percentage of .308. These numbers are not anywhere close to the numbers that someone like Ichiro would put up in a Major League season.
Let’s compare those numbers to what Choo put together last season for the Reds. Choo had a batting average of .285 and an on base percentage of .423. Hamilton put together numbers similar to what Choo did in 2013 in 2012 in high A and AA. Obviously high A and AA are much different in talent level compared to the MLB, but when Hamilton put up those numbers in 2012 he also had 155 stolen bases. That number is ridiculous at any level at baseball and I am not trying to say that he would steal anywhere near that number of bases in one MLB season but the threat of him stealing second or third at any time will weigh heavily on any pitcher.
Joey Votto to be completely healthy
Although Joey Votto led the league in games played, plate appearances, walks and on base percentage it was quite apparent that he was not 100 percent healthy. Votto missed part of the 2012 campaign with a knee injury and there were points during 2013 that he looked slow and extremely uncomfortable at the plate. A lot professional athletes take about a year to fully recover from a knee injury. By the time a year had past with Votto’s injury, it was late into the 2013 season and Votto had played in every game. Having an offseason to fully recover and work on his game will allow Votto to come back in full force in 2014 and hopefully get back to his 2010 form when he won the NL MVP.
Resign Bailey and Latos
Starting pitching is the key to any winning ball club, but young starting pitching is even more important.
Homer Bailey will be 27 at the start of this upcoming season and Mat Latos will be 26. Bailey has spent his entire career pitching for the Cincinnati Reds. He has compiled a record of 49-45 over his seven years in the MLB, including 24-22 over the past two seasons. While this isn’t incredibly impressive, Bailey has shown signs of being an ace on any staff. He has thrown two no-hitters, including the first no-hitter in Reds history since Tom Browning threw a perfect game in 1988.
In 2013, Bailey had a 8.6 strikeout per nine innings which ranked him 13th in the National League in the category. Bailey’s name has been part of trade rumors due to his ability and what many believe will be a huge contract when it comes time to negotiate a contract extension, but the Reds must seriously consider signing him to a long-term deal.
Latos is in the same category as Bailey. In his two seasons with the Reds, Latos has posted a record of 28-11 with a 3.32 ERA. Latos has been pretty dominant with the Reds and deserves to be looked as one of the top pitchers in the National League. He has proven himself to be the ace of the Reds staff. Many will peg Johnny Cueto with that title, but with the recent injury issues that have plagued Cueto, you have to look at Latos as the staff ace.
The Brandon Phillips situation to smooth over
The major topic in Reds country this offseason has surrounded Brandon Phillips.
Toward the end of last season, Phillips made comments in a Cincinnati magazine that he was upset with the way that his contract negotiation went with the Reds. The talks about these comments seemed to die down as the season did the same, but once the offseason began talks began to surface that Walt Jocketty and Reds ownership were not happy with the comments that Phillips had made.
On top of this, the Yankees were rumored to not being interested in giving Robinson Cano the $300 million contract that he would be asking for. With the Yankees being out on Cano it opened second base up for one of the best second basemen in baseball. There were a lot of trade rumors involving Phillips and the Yankees, yet nothing has happened.
It would be a mistake to allow one of the best second basemen in the league to be traded away. Many will point to his down year at the plate last year, but he was asked to do a lot of different things throughout the year. The best things the Reds could do at this point is to begin the healing process. Step one has already happened with Reds ownership allowing Phillips to come to the very popular offseason gathering called RedsFest when it was rumored the Phillips wasn’t initially invited. Step number two occurred on Monday when Jocketty did an interview on MLB Network and said, “I think right now we’re a better team with Brandon on our club.” The important thing for the Reds to do is to reassure Phillips that they are happy with him on their team internally and through the media.
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