Here are some quick notes on the Cincinnati Reds, who are off to a 3-4 start to the season.
* It was great to see the team sign Brandon Phillips to a 5-year, $60 million extension (6-years, $72.5 million counting the $12.5 million Phillips is making this year) right on the heels of the huge Joey Votto deal. I honestly thought the team would let Phillips walk after this season, but I’m glad they worked out a deal for one of the game’s elite second basemen. Definitely market value for Phillips; maybe a tad under in fact.
The 30-year-old Phillips is now signed through the 2017 season. Sure, his production is bound to decline the last couple years of the contract, but I still think he’ll be an All-Star caliber player for the majority of the deal. Another aggressive and bold move from owner Bob Castellini. It sure is refreshing to have an owner that values winning more than he does lining his pockets. Castellini is plenty rich; he just wants to win. (Wouldn’t it be nice if Mike Brown had a similar attitude?)
* The best sign for the Reds through the first seven games of the season is the pitching of Aroldis Chapman. In five innings, he has given up just two hits, has walked no one and has given up no runs. He’s also struck out 10 batters. Yes, the 24-year-old “Cuban Missile” seems to have found his groove. However, he still needs to prove he can do it on a consistent basis.
By the way: Should part of Ozzie Guillen’s punishment be that he has to step in the batter’s box and face an angry Chapman? Yes, yes it should. Seriously, even the Ghost of Marge Schott is surprised someone would make a pro-Fidel Castro comment in Miami.
* Am I worried about Mat Latos? Heck no. He’s actually looked good through his first two starts, although the numbers don’t reflect it (0-1, 5.59 ERA). The 6-foot-6, 235-pound Latos, 24, has an impressive repertoire of pitches and I think he’ll eventually be the ace of the staff. And that’s coming from someone who is very high on Johnny Cueto.
* Zack Cozart is a keeper and then some. The 26-year-old rookie is the first legit shortstop the Reds have had since future Hall-of-Famer Barry Larkin retired. Cozart is mature beyond his years (although he is “old” for a rookie), handles himself well in the field, and is an actual weapon at the plate. The Reds appear to be set at short for years. Wow does it feel nice to say that.
* Todd Frazier should not be in Triple-A right now. With a starting third baseman in Scott Rolen who is going to get a day off every third game, the Reds need a legit backup 3B. In other words, not Miguel Cairo. As aggressive as the front office has been, I don’t think eating Cairo’s $1 million contract for this season would be a big deal in the least. Or, the Reds could cut relief pitcher Alfredo Simon, who has looked terrible thus far. It’s a not-so-subtle reminder that if the Baltimore Orioles cut a player, he sucks. It’s really that simple.