Poor planning, lack of cash could force Reds to slash payroll

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Less than four months ago the Reds traded three players to the Blue Jays for Scott Rolen and the $11.8 million remaining on his contract for 2010, but now Ed Price of Fanhouse reports that they “need to slash payroll” and may be forced to shop high-paid veterans Brandon Phillips, Aaron Harang, and Bronson Arroyo.
Harang and Arroyo are solid starters, but they’re hardly top-of-the-rotation material and Cincinnati would likely have to eat some salary to get either of them off the books. Arroyo is owed $11 million next season and $11 million or a $2 million buyout for 2011. Harang is owed $12.5 million next season and $12.75 million or a $2 million buyout for 2011. Good luck shedding those contracts in this environment.
Phillips would be far easier to trade, because he’s 28 years old, excellent defensively at second base, hit .276/.329/.447 with 20 homers and 25 steals this season, and is owed a more palatable $17.75 million over the next two seasons with a $12 million option or $1 million buyout for 2012. Ironically, general manager Walt Jocketty explained that the extent of the payroll issues may be determined by offseason ticket sales, which will no doubt be hurt by talk of the team having to deal away well-known players.
Getting rid of closer Francisco Cordero and the $25 million that he’s owed over the next two seasons would seemingly be another option to lessen the payroll, but Price notes that the Reds “would prefer to keep” him. Apparently paying $12.5 million per season for a closer who pitches 70 innings is absolutely vital for a team that hasn’t finished above .500 since 2000. Or something.

Travis d’Arnaud’s position in Wednesday’s box score read “3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B”

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The Mets had to scratch both Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores an hour before Wednesday’s game against the Yankees due to ribcage injuries, so Travis d'Arnaud — normally a catcher — borrowed David Wright‘s glove and played third base for the first time in his career. He had played some third base in spring training, but as far as an official professional game goes, he’s never been there.

The first two batters the Yankees sent up to the plate in the first inning were left-handed. But when the right-handed Aaron Judge came up, manager Terry Collins swapped second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera with d’Arnaud. It became a thing. The two swapped once more in the first inning, three times in the second, once in the third, five times in the fourth, once in the fifth, three times in the sixth, four times in the seventh, once in the eighth, and twice in the ninth. It worked, as d’Arnaud didn’t have an opportunity to make a play until catching Todd Frazier‘s pop-up for the first out of the ninth inning — as a second baseman. Cabrera had a handful of opportunities, including immediately after having swapped with d’Arnaud.

The Mets lost 5-3. At the plate, d’Arnaud went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly. Cabrera was 1-for-4.

Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini are being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas so the Mets don’t have to do the “3B-2B shenanigans,” as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo put it, again.

John Lackey stole the first base of his career

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Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.

Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.

Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.

Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.