Monthly Archives: January 2008

January 21, 2008

NLC’s Hottest Baller – Round 1 – Burnett vs Ausmus

Brad AusmusWelcome to round 1 of the Jason Romano Commemorative NLC’s hottest blogger contest. 15 of the best-looking players on NLC (plus one fella in limbo) face off in a single-elimination tournament.

Today’s match-up pits Sean Burnett of the Pittsburgh Pirates against Brad Ausmus of the Houston Astros. This is an interesting match-up for many reasons. First is that neither player has a tie to the Reds, which has been the kiss of death in the tournament so far. The first contest was won by long-time Red, Jason LaRue, the second by Rick Ankiel (who is an honorary Red due to his strong outfield but poor pitching performance), the third by Brandon Phillips, and Joey Votto has pulled ahead into a comfortable lead in the fourth pairing.

Also ought to be interesting because, though Ausmus is among the older players in our bracket, it was a Google search of Burnett that made me think I’d accidentally written down the wrong name when choosing competitors. Just keep in mind that I was looking at the slightly askew cap and half-smile of his MLB profile photo, not these highlights, when I made the choice.

Sean BurnettSean Burnett
ht: 6-1 wt: 195 dob: 09/17/1982

On his bio page on, this bit of minutia is the first thing you see.

Is a 2000 graduate of Wellington (FL) High School, the same school that produced Bobby Bradley, the Pirates’ 1st-round selection in 1999 (marking the first time in draft history that a major league club has used consecutive first-round selections on players from the same high school)

Maybe a good showing in the RHM hottest baller contest will help him define himself in terms of something other than his high school.

Brad Ausmus
ht: 5-11 wt: 190 dob: 04/14/1969

Ausmus is going to turn 39 a couple of weeks into the season, so it makes sense that he’s going to be playing the role of the backup (even on the Astros). Honestly, I’m pretty new to this blogging-about-anyone-except-the-Reds thing, so I can’t say much. Except that he photographs well.


January 20, 2008

NLC Transactions Update

Egad! Has it really been 12 days since the last time I updated us on player transactions in the NL Central? I guess time flies when you’re having fun…and NLC general managers have been having fun these past, well, almost two weeks now – so let’s get busy:

Wednesday 1/9/08: The Astros signed RHPs Mike DeJean and Carlos Hines, OF Victor Diaz, C J.R. House and 1B Lance Niekro (Son of Joe and nephew of Hall of Famer Phil) to minor league contracts with the obligatory invitations to spring training, and invited SS Tommy Manzella and LHP Josh Muecke to spring training. Meanwhile, the Brewers avoided arbitration by signing LHP Brian Shouse to a one-year, $2 million contract.

Thursday 1/10: The Brewers invited non-roster C Andy Bouchie to spring training, and the Cardinals signed 1B Josh Phelps (whom you’ll recall the last-place Pirates, earlier this offseason, decided they couldn’t use) to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Saturday 1/11: The Cubs signed former Reds farmhand RHP Chad Fox to a minor league contract with a non-roster invitation to spring training; the Astros signed RHP Brandon Backe to a one-year, $800,000 contract (plus incentives), thus avoiding arbitration; and the Pirates signed RHP T.J. Beam (no relation to Jim), C Raul Chavez and IF/OF Jose Macias to minor league contracts with the usual invitations to join them for spring festivities.

Monday 1/14: As previously reported here on Red Hot Mama, the Brewers signed OF Mike Cameron to a one-year contract with a club option for 2009. They also invited non-roster OF Matt LaPorta to spring training. But the Cardinals made the biggest deal of the day, obtaining 3B Troy Glaus from the Blue Jays for disgruntled 3B Scott Rolen.

Tuesday 1/15: Eight days after having just signed him to a one-year contract, the Brewers designated OF Drew Anderson for assignment (but keep reading, you haven’t heard the last of him yet). In Chicago, meanwhile, the Cubs decided to sign a whole army of guys and make my life miserable this week: SS Andres Blanco, RHP Mike Smith, OF Andres Torres, C JD Closser, and SS Luis Figueroa, C Koyie Hill, 1B Micah Hoffpauir, LHP Geoff Jones, OF Josh Kroeger and LHP Les Walrond all were inked to minor league deals with invitations to spring training, and they also invited LHP Edward Campusano, C Welington Castillo, RHP Jose Ceda, OF Tyler Colvin, C Josh Donaldson and 3B Casey McGehee to spring training.

Wednesday 1/16: The Cubs signed RHP Jon Lieber to a one-year, $3.5 million contract, and the Brewers signed RHP Claudio Vargas to a one-year, $3.6 million contract, thus avoiding arbitration with Vargas.

Thursday 1/17: The Brew Crew avoided another potential salary arbitration hassle by signing LHP Chris Capuano to a one-year, $3.75 million contract. The Astros signed OF Nick Gorneault and RHP Runelvys Hernandez to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training, and closer to home, the Reds invited RHP Josh Roenicke and 1B Adam Rosales to spring training.

Friday 1/18: The Cardinals signed OF Rick Ankiel to a one-year, $900,000 contract, thus avoiding arbitration with the former pitcher turned slugging outfielder turned HGH poster boy. The Pirates agreed to terms with OF Xavier Nady and LHP John Grabow (no relation to Doc) on one-year contracts (Nady reportedly will make $3.35 million, Grabow $1.13 million; both were eligible for arbitration). The Astros signed IF Ty Wigginton to a one-year, $4.35 million contract, in this post’s last example of “The better to avoid arbitration with you, my dear.”

Meanwhile, back at GABP, the Reds on Friday claimed the aforementioned OF Drew Anderson (I told you that you hadn’t heard the last of him yet) off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers. This begs the question of who will be the first to confuse this Drew Anderson with the Reds’ other minor-leaguer also named Drew Anderson. Also on Friday, the Cubs signed RHP Shingo Takatsu to a one-year minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.

January 20, 2008

Good Morning: Reds Have New Pitcher

Good Morning, dear readers. The Reds have a new pitcher. The club has agreed with free agent LHP Jeremy Affeldt – most recently a member of the NL pennant-winning Colorado Rockies – on a one-year, $3 million contract, pending Affeldt’s passing a physical.

I’m not terribly impressed with his overall body of work in the major leagues prior to last year, but for $3 million in today’s market? The husk of Ron Mahay is costing the Royals $4 million a year for the next two years. At least Affeldt, who is only 28, might still have some upside. He’s lefthanded, has postseason experience, is coming off a career year, his career ERA+ is right around league average, and if he doesn’t start, he could turn out to be the best LOOGY the Reds have had in a long time.

He could also enable a trade later in the year if the kids have taken over the rotation slots. If Affeldt plays well, they can trade a package consisting of Mike Stanton and two autographed pictures of Mel Queen to any team in baseball that’s willing to pay the asking price (a bag of batting practice baseballs sounds just about right), and consider it a deal that heavily favors the Reds.

January 17, 2008

CD Review: Tragedy Comic

Tragedy Comic by Screaming Mimes

©2007 Screaming Mimes, All Rights Reserved. 873 Four Mile Road Cincinnati Ohio 45230
Music & Lyrics by David O. Storm ©2007 Bozelmax Music (ASCAP)

Tragedy Comic Cover ArtJust two short years after the release of their debut album Live My Life, the Screaming Mimes put forth their sophomore offering in Tragedy Comic. This lyrically driven album is smart and frisky and fun without being too childish, like using your old Legos to build something badass for your home office, like a pen holder or a functioning stapler. Production values are way up (and they weren’t bad to begin with) making this a very polished, professional piece of work.

Regular Screaming Mimes concert goers will be familiar with many of the tracks on this album. Twister is an upbeat number discussing many of the various twists that you can encounter in your life. It’s singable and totally fun to dance to when no one is looking. See if you can find the place in the song when I sing, over the lyrics, “Order me a gin and tonic…twist!”

# Title
1 Twister
2 Sleeping With the Emily
3 Superdave
4 Only Love
5 More Than Ever
6 She’s Waiting
7 Everything To Me
8 Suddenly
10 Happening
11 Pretty Soon Now

A variety of influences make Tragedy Comic a musically interesting work. The Crack Technical Staff and I make a hobby of pointing out parts that remind us of other groups we like: a little Beatles here, a touch of Gin Blossoms over there. And what’s this? Perhaps a touch of Madness? The overall sound has a distinctive Barenaked Ladies flavor, with less of a “I hate everything about my life, including you, but at least I sound happy about it” tint. If anything, the music is a little on the lovey-dovey side, but with just a little sardonic edge.

Superdave, the clear star track, is supposed to be available in video form soon, which we will definitely feature here on Red Hot Mama to the furthest extent of the law. In the meantime, you could probably get a sneak peek at the Mimes’ CD release party tomorrow, January 18 at 8 p.m. If you’re in the greater Cincinnati area, come by the Southgate House across from Newport On The Levee.

Otherwise, you can get your copy from CD

January 17, 2008

Baseball Finds Leader To Save From Steroids

Bud SeligWhat, you were expecting someone other than Bud Selig?

Despite saying repeatedly that he would retire after 2009, Selig accepted the offer of a 3-year contract extension.

The man who courageously lead baseball into its steroid mess will also be the one to blindly lead it out. This time he’s got just four years to do it, unless he accepts another extension in 2012, which he’s assured everyone he won’t. Just like in 2006.