Monthly Archives: December 2005
After so much talk about the importance of upgrading the rotation, here we are at the end of December, and the most excitement we've gotten out of our off-season transactions has been in the infield. Our beloved first baseman is gone, our third baseman is still a source of uncertainty, and we have something like six potential second basemen.
The situation at second base is interesting, isn't it? It sounds like everyone assumes that if Rich Aurilia comes back, second base is just his. But if Aurilia doesn't come back, it's a fight between Ryan Freel and Tony Womack.
Womack has said in the papers how he intends to go out and win the position, even after the Reds said that they planned to use him as a utility player. Meanwhile, Freel has said in the papers that he's not bothered by the Womack signing and doesn't even really mind if he's the starter at second.
Last year, Aurilia was sort of like Womack is now, and Aurilia *did* manage to win a starting job out of spring training. But last year's Lopez wasn't like Freel is now. No, this year's will be a different kind of contest entirely.
I wonder whether Freel even wants to commit to second base. After all, what are the benefits of having a regular starting job over being the super-sub?
- More money. That's not really an issue for Freel now that he's got his multi-million dollar contract. With as much as manager Jerry Narron managed to squeeze Freel into the line-up last season, being a regular starter wouldn't even make Freel more likely to meet his incentives.
- More respect. At least, that used to be the case, but I think that Freel himself is changing that perspective. Nowadays, people talk about the entire class of super-subs as “Ryan Freel-type players” and rave about how undervalued they are.
- It's easier. But this is Freel we're talking about. He wouldn't *want* an easier job. His personality is going to strive to take on the most difficult challenge available.
Freel can take his prove-it-can-be-done attitude into spring training and completely blow Womack out of the water. Which would land him the starting job, which would get him an easier job and nothing to prove. Exactly what he wouldn't want.
Alternately, Freel can try to suppress his personality and go into spring training, take it easy now that he has his contract, keep himself healthy, and lose the starting job to the fired-up Womack. Which would get him the super-sub job he's so well-suited for, while requiring him to change the very part of himself that makes him well-suited for it.
Did I mention that he's also his own grandpa?
Quite a conundrum Freel has here. Unless, of course, the Reds bring back Aurilia. In that case, Aurilia gets second and Freel can go about his business of blowing Womack out of the water in the competition for the greatest super-sub. Freel may well suddenly be Aurilia's number 1 fan.
Either way, it's more interesting than the starting pitching.
Yesterday the Reds convinced catcher Jason LaRue to sign a two-year contract:
The deal allowed LaRue to avoid arbitration with Cincinnati and ensured his spot as the team's starter behind the plate. The 31-year-old will earn $3.9 million in 2006 and $5.2 million in 2007. If he is traded after Oct. 15, his 2007 salary jumps to $5.45 million automatically.
I'm psyched. LaRue is a good catcher, a hell of a guy, and just as hot as can be.
I caught a little bit of Andy Furman interviewing LaRue on WLW last night. He talked about being ready to step into the leadership role of the team, which will be a good thing. LaRue has a harder edge than Sean Casey could provide, but he still embodies the down-home goodness that has come to be a hallmark of the Reds culture. Maybe this nice guy won't lead the team to finish last for a change.
LaRue sounded more confident than I remember him being. I guess a good year will do that for you. And smarter, too, laying down some pretty sharp sarcasm a couple times. He's so good-looking that I think I assume he's not bright, and that's really not fair. I mean, if being attractive always made you vapid, then the Red Hot Mama's head would be as empty as the red level at Cinergy in August. Or, at least the yellow level.
LaRue got bonus points in my book for calling Furman “Seg” twice.
Back when I was doing the research for LaRue's Human League profile (which is in dire need of re-writing), I stumbled upon these entries at Outsports: The Home for Gay Sports Fans and Athletes. LaRue was very well-liked there, as evidenced by the fact that he was awarded the 2001 Brass Balls Award for Catchers and then named the Hot Red the next year. The same writer did both pieces, and I'd like to say that he has excellent taste, except he nominated David Eckstein for the Rookie Brass Balls award. Ew.
So, long-story-short: I'm pleased that we'll be enjoying the stylings of LaRue behind the plate for a while longer.
Now to lock-up the Latin Love Machine.
Well, almost: there are still a few kinks to work out. Thanks to my crack technical team, Red Hot Mama is now enjoying a new host, hopefully one that won't schedule “announced” “brief” down time that takes my site down unexpectedly for three days.
I hope to be catching up on all the excitement this afternoon (Chris Hammond, woo!). I still don't have access to my e-mail ([email protected]-hot-mama.com), so if I haven't responded to your message, it's nothing personal. Probably.
According to The Official Site, everyone's favorite human hummingbird Ryan Freel has signed a 2-year, $3 million-plus-incentives contract.
“It hasn't really sunk in,” Freel said. Understandably so. Freel will turn 30 during spring training; seems a little late for the hyperkinetic to finally be coming into their own. But he'll probably still be crashing into outfield walls and battling Godzilla Toe when he's 55.
“He is arguably one of the best lead-off hitters on our team,” said general manager Dan O'Brien. I wish that guy could put a cap on his emotions sometimes. It's so embarrassing when he gushes.
I, of course, am quite pleased, and I can't wait till my blog comes back online so I can gush about it myself.