Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown is coming off of an abysmal 2014 performance in which he finished with a .235/.285/.349 slash line. Not exactly the kind of follow-up to his All-Star 2013 output the Phillies were expecting. With Marlon Byrd gone, Brown is moving across the outfield back to right field, and he’ll be fighting for a starting role with the Phillies for the foreseeable future.
Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt is hoping to work with Brown over the course of the spring in an effort to help him live up to his potential and perhaps even win the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award. Via MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki:
“I know his history. I watched a great majority of his at-bats last year. I hope to get him to open up a bit in talking and trusting [me]. I’m not going to try to impart any mechanical things that I did as a right-handed power hitter. I searched for the ball with my hands. Domonic is more of a rotational, sit-on-the-back-leg guy. The core makes the swing happen.
Domonic needs to be challenged to get back to where he was. But at the same time, not told he’s bad or regressing. Search for positives. I wouldn’t call it starting over. [I would tell him] ‘Get this in your mind: I’m going to win the Comeback Player of the Year Award, starting now.'”
Though Schmidt insists it was just coincidence, Brown hit a home run in mid-June last season only minutes after having flagged down Schmidt for advice. Schmidt told Brown to use his top hand more. Brown then tagged Cubs starter Edwin Jackson for a lead-extending three-run home run. It would seem that if anyone could get the most out of Brown, it’s Schmidt.
Homer Bailey, who’s coming back from September surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon, arrived at Reds camp this morning and admitted that he’s behind his usual throwing schedule this time of year.
Here’s what Bailey told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com:
I haven’t gotten off the mound. Usually, l like to get off the mound a few times before I come. But I can catch back up real quick. It’s more getting used to the throwing everyday stuff.
Bailey has yet to suffer any setbacks in his recovery, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a ton until he actually tries to throw off a mound.
He started 23 games with a 3.71 ERA before being shut down in the first season of a $105 million contract extension.
Reds GM Walt Jocketty didn’t sound like he expected starter Johnny Cueto to sign an extension anytime soon, recently saying, “I’m not sure we’ll be able to, because the numbers are obviously starting to skyrocket and it’s very tough in our market to continue to retain guys at a high price like that.”
Nevertheless, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Reds indeed are serious about extending him. Cueto said he won’t negotiate a contract beyond Opening Day , so the clock is ticking. If the Reds are unable to work out a new deal, Cueto very likely would be traded by the July 31 deadline.
Cueto, celebrating his 29th birthday today, finished second on National League Cy Young voting this past season, finishing with a 2.25 ERA and a 242/65 K/BB ratio in 243 2/3 innings. He’s had an ERA of 2.82 or lower in each of the past four seasons. Clayton Kershaw is the only other pitcher to accomplish the feat.
Marty Brennaman is a Frick Award winner and, when he wants to be, is still one of the best broadcasters in the game. But his favorite hobby, it seems, is going after the Reds’ best players.
He did this all through the 2000s with Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr., acting as if they were what stood between the Reds and success. In recent years he has decided Joey Votto is the problem. Never mind that he’s their best hitter. I mean, when you rip a guy for his RBI total despite the fact that he’s hitting .330/.441/.525 at the time, you may a bit unhinged on the subject.
Brennaman continued his campaign against Votto today:
He’s right. Votto should make more outs. That’d be the smart play.
Look, I know what some of you will say, mostly because I live in Ohio, I’ve heard Brennaman say it so much and a lot of Reds fans like to parrot it: “Votto should be more aggressive!” Maybe in some situations he should. Votto himself has said as much.
But that’s a totally different thing than Brennaman is saying here. The use of the word “content” is a suggestion about Votto’s character, his desire to win and his baseball I.Q. The fixation on on-base percentage — a stat where, in every possible way, it is better to have a high number than a low number — is a dose of ignorance about which Brennaman should and likely does know better. This is his way of saying Votto is soft and lacks the will to win and, if you know a lot of Reds fans, you know that’s something they say over and over again.
Mostly because the team’s iconic announcer tells them they should think that way.
Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds and Aroldis Chapman avoided arbitration today with a one-year deal. The terms are unknown, but Chapman submitted a $8.7 million figure while the Reds’ proposal was $6.65 million. Figure the midpoint is what he’ll be paid.
Chapman will be 27 this season. Last year he saved 36 games with a 2.00 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 54 innings which is simply ridiculous.
UPDATE: Strike that midpoint talk: Jeff Passan reports that the deal is $8.05 million, which is nearly half a million above the midpoint.