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If the Cincinnati Reds are going to contend in 2020, the front office must make some changes to the roster. Which five players are most likely to be traded this offseason?
If the Cincinnati Reds are looking to make a big splash this offseason, it’ll likely come through a trade rather than free agency. With that in mind, you got to spend money to make money. So, if you’re the Reds, you got to trade away talent in order to gain talent. Which five players on the Reds roster are most likely to be traded this offseason?

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The Cincinnati Reds have eight players eligible for arbitration this offseason. Which five are most deserving of the bump in pay?
Each year, MLB Trade Rumors calculates an estimate of what each arbitration eligible Major League Baseball player will make through the process. Players who have more than three, but less than six years of major league service are arbitration eligible every offseason. This year, the Cincinnati Reds have eight players who fit that category. Which five are worth the bump in pay?

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If a player and team have not agreed upon a salary for the upcoming season by the mid-January deadline, both parties will enter arbitration. After the team and player exchange numbers, an arbitration hearing is scheduled and if the two sides have not reached an agreement by the time the hearing rolls around, a panel of arbitrators will decide how much the player’s salary will be.

As the Cincinnati Reds’ front office personnel look for areas to improve in 2020, they feel like they learned a lot about the team’s bullpen after playing in so many close games.

The Reds played in 57 one-run games, the most in the majors, and had another 31 games decided by two runs. It was a lot of stress on the bullpen, which was a strength in the first half of the season and then got roughed up in the second half.

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In the offseason, upgrading the bullpen is expected to be one of their top priorities. The Reds posted a 24-33 record in one-run games and a 13-19 mark in two-run games.

“You’re talking about almost 90 games that the last three or four innings, one swing of the bat can change the outcome,” said Dick Williams, the Reds’ president of baseball operations. “Every decision was scrutinized and that’s just the nature of baseball in close games. I think a lot of attention was starting to be paid to our bullpen. They were so good and such a strength, but because we were in every game and fighting in close battles, we did put a lot of pressure on those guys.”

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Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Amir Garrett (50) returns to the dugout after being pulled in the eighth inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, July 28, 2018.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Amir Garrett (50) returns to the dugout after being pulled in the eighth inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, July 28, 2018. (Photo: Sam Greene)

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During the first three months of the season, the Reds had the National League’s top bullpen with a 3.73 ERA. The Reds ranked third-to-last in the NL with a 4.85 ERA in the final three months.

Williams says the bullpen deserved more credit than it received.

“When they did let things get away, I think they were, at times, unfairly scrutinized because I really think when the offense had chances to provide separating runs, get big leads, jump out, we just didn’t get quite enough of that, taking pressure off the pitching at times,” Williams said. “I felt like, I’m generalizing, more often than not, the offense ended up being a culprit.

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“We just weren’t generating enough offense overall. That will be a focus for us.”

The Reds remain confident in their core of late-inning options: Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson. Iglesias had his worst season as a closer with a 3-12 record and a 4.16 ERA, but he converted 34 saves and showed encouraging signs when he allowed four hits and one walk across 10 ⅔ innings in September.

Lorenzen pitched 83 ⅓ innings, the second-most in the NL among relievers, and finished with a stellar 2.92 ERA. He had a career-high 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Garrett struggled in the last two months of the season, especially with walks, but finished with a 3.21 ERA in 56 innings as his slider developed into one of the top swing-and-miss pitches in baseball.

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Stephenson was the final player to make the 25-man roster in spring training and found success in the bullpen. He posted a 3.76 ERA in 64 ⅔ innings and received more high-leverage opportunities at the end of the year.

Along with any offseason additions, the Reds are hopeful that some of their internal options take a big step forward, whether it’s Joel Kuhnel, Matt Bowman, Cody Reed, R.J. Alaniz or Jimmy Herget. Lucas Sims and Sal Romano spent time as starters, but they will be out of minor league options next year. Kevin Gausman is a candidate to be non-tendered because he’s expected to make more than $10 million through arbitration, but the Reds like his potential as a reliever.

“I do believe that we’re going to continue to get more and more out of our existing players,” Williams said. “We showed that last year that we were able to draw more out of, particularly, the pitching staff. I think that’ll be exciting to see next year.”

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This last season, we saw the Cincinnati avoid arbitration with all eligible players. The likes of Scott Schebler, José Peraza and Yasiel Puig were in last year’s group. This year provides a few new names and some you’ve seen before.

This arbitration season will be interesting, as four of the eight players are arbitration eligible for the final time, meaning they’ll be free agents after the season. Those players are most likely to receive a multi-year deal if the Reds want to maintain control beyond the 2020 season. So, which five players, eligible for arbitration, are worth the increase in salary?

Curt Schilling is the pitching coach the Red Sox need
going forward

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No fan wants to see their favorite player shipped off to another team. Trades are hard on both the players and the fans, but it’s part of the business-side of baseball. With the Reds looking to upgrade at virtually every position, it stands to reason that Dick Williams and Nick Krall will be busy early and often this offseason.

After a seeing the Reds front office pull off a blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, I’d expect to see something similar this offseason. While the likes of Mookie Betts and Corey Seager may become available, they won’t come cheap. Teams are looking for prospects, but inevitably some major league-ready players might also be involved in potential deals.

The Cincinnati Reds have a plethora of young talent who’ve yet to reach their potential, but if ownership is in “win now”, the team may be willing to part with some of its more promising players in exchange for established major league talent. So. which five players may find their way onto the trade block this winter?

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Here’s the history: way back in 913, France was ruled by a king named Charles the Simple. He had a buddy named Aymar who lived along the Allier river in the center of the country. Simple Charlie liked Aymar so much that he gave him vast tracts of land and a castle in the town of Bourbon-Archambault. Here Aymar had a bunch of kids, almost all of whom took the “Archambault” name, and that title continued until 1200, when Archambault VII died without a male heir. Whereupon his granddaughter, Mathilde, took up the family mantle under a derivative name, thus becoming the first Dame de Bourbon.

The Bourbons slowly increased their power and influence throughout the Crusades and the Hundred Years’ War, becoming an important “cadet family” in the court of France until, in 1589, Henry VI became the first Bourbon king of France, ultimately earning the epithet, “Good King Henry.” (Seven more Bourbons would follow him, including Louis the XIV “The Sun King” and Louis XVI “The guy who lost his head in the French Revolution”).

During the reign of the Bourbons, French exploitation of the New World resulted in the royal family name being splattered across America. Most famously: Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Bourbon County in Kentucky, and Pedro Borbon, the Dominican relief pitcher who won two World Series with the Cincinnati Reds.

Bourbon County went on to become world-famous as a home of American whiskey. But what you may not know is that, in the late 1800’s, a Bourbon County farmer named J.F. Barbee crossed several breeds of turkey including the Buff (also known as Tuscarora), the Bronze, and the White Holland, and produced a new breed he called the “Bourbon Butternut.” At first the breed was a failure, but shortly thereafter, Barbee launched a bird brand overhaul, rechristening his bird as “Bourbon Red,” and that did the trick. Sales took off, and in 1909 the American Poultry Association recognized it as a distinct breed. By the 1940’s, Bourbon Red had become perhaps the most prevalent bird on Thanksgiving tables across the country.

But then came commercialization. The Bourbon Red was supplanted first by the Standard Bronze (which could breed naturally), then the Broad Breasted Bronze (which cannot), and finally the Broad Breasted White, which is the standard for today’s large scale industrial turkey farms.

But hang on there, don’t count out the Bourbon yet. In this developing era of free-range, organic, and locally grown, the Bourbon Red is fast becoming one of the most important heritage birds for Thanksgiving. Though smaller than the broad-breasted standard, Bourbon Reds produce more flavorful meat. And they are just fine living outdoors, foraging for themselves (and making the next generation of Bourbon Reds all on their own, thank you very much.)

There are only about 5000 breeding hens in the US, so they are hard to find. But if you can find a source of Bourbon Reds, you will be promoting sustainable agriculture, helping the environment, and giving a small farm family something they can be thankful for.

Here in central Joisey we have a farm nearby which usually sells out of its Bourbons long before Thanksgiving. Luckily we remembered to order one a few weeks back. It’s just a 10-pounder, but it should be big enough to satisfy our small crowd next week.

It may be too late for you to find a Bourbon in your area. If so, you’ll just have to make do with the kind that comes in a bottle. Merde alors.

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving.

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Kevin Gausman is unlikely to be retained through arbitration, but the Cincinnati Reds could retain his services with a one-year contract.
When it comes to next year’s starting rotation, the Cincinnati Reds have four of their five spots on lock down. The names Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer and Anthony DeSclafani can be etched in stone. The fifth starter, however, is a bit of a mystery. Kevin Gausman may be the Reds best option.

Gausman is entering his final year of arbitration, and it seems ludicrous for the Reds to pay what it would likely cost. Gausman is estimated by MLB Trade Rumors to take home $10.6M through arbitration. That figure is a bit high, and it’s very likely that the Reds non-tender Gausman in the coming weeks.

Doing so, however, does not mean the Reds are unable or unwilling to bring the right-hander back on a more team-friendly contract. After all, no team would be willing to pay Gausman an eight-figure salary. Gausman went 3-9 with a 5.72 ERA. Gausman started 16 games for the Atlanta Braves before coming to Cincinnati where he worked all but one game out of the bullpen.

The Reds have a few players already under contract who could fill the role of fifth starter next season. Tyler Mahle locked down that spot for the majority of the 2019 season after garnering 23 starts the year before. Lucas Sims is also an option. That said, speaking to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale, Reds GM Nick Krall stressed the need for more pitching:

“Every year, most teams use seven or eight starters. Most teams use 12 relievers that have significant time. You can’t overlook that. Having depth, guys with options, that’s really important for us. That stuff is just as important as getting a top-end guy sometimes.”

Krall’s message should be music to the ears of Reds Country. While Reds starters, with the exception of Mahle, were relatively healthy last season, that isn’t always the case. Having Gausman as the team’s fifth starter with the likes of Mahle and/ or Sims waiting in the wings would give Cincinnati a lot of insurance.

While Sims has been solid is spurts, Mahle has left a lot to the imagination. Though he’s highly regarded by scouts and those within the organization, he’s yet to breakthrough and show that he can consistently perform on the biggest stage. Though Gausman had a down-year in 2019, he’s just one year removed from a 10-11 record with a 3.92 ERA.

Kevin Gausman fits the role of a fifth starter on a contending team. The minor leagues don’t seem like a viable option to produce a fifth starter this coming year, though Nick Lodolo may surprise some people. Tony Santillan has yet to play above the Double-A level and Vladimir Gutierrez took two steps back last year.

NEXT: 5 OFs the Reds should target in a trade
Obviously, the market will dictate what Gausman’s value is, and there are other free agents who may be more appealing. Having said that, Gausman was a reliable arm out of the bullpen last season, and could at least fill that role in 2020.

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MMO previously analyzed the 1973 Topps Tommie Agee card to determine the date, venue, and other players and umpire shown on that particular card as well as the unseen batter. Today, we’re going to turn the clock back just a bit further and see, armed with our trusty Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat, if we can’t solve the mysteries presented on the 1971 Topps Tommie Agee card #310 from the set.

1. When was the game played?

We see Agee sliding into second while Astros second baseman Joe Morgan and the shortstop, who has a “1” as the second number on his uniform attempt to retrieve the ball. From the grass outfield we know that the game must be at Shea as the Astrodome had astroturf. From the lighting, the game is a day game, and from the minimal shadows, we’re looking for a play relatively early during the game.

Turning to baseball-reference, the Mets hosted the Astros in three day games in 1970, on May 30, 31 and August 19th. Reviewing the box scores in reverse date order, Tommie Agee did not have a stolen base on August 19, nor in the first game of the doubleheader on the 31st which leaves the game on May 30 as a likely date. Indeed, in the bottom of the first Agee walked and promptly stole second. Therefore, the game this picture was taken was the May 30 game at Shea against the Houston Astros.

2. Who is the shortstop?

Denis Mennke played short that day for the Astros. While not having the Hall of Fame career that Joe Morgan had, Menke played 13 seasons in the majors between 1962 and 1974, accumulated 28.1 bWAR and was a two-time All Star, including 1970. In 1970, his uniform number was 11, consistent with the second “1” we can see on the card.

3. Now that we know the three players – Agee, Morgan and Menke, who is the umpire?

The second base umpire that day is Ken Burkhart. Both a pitcher and an umpire in MLB, as a pitcher, Burkhart had a lifetime 27–20 record with a 3.84 E.R.A. across 519.2 innings. As a rookie in 1945 with the Cardinals, Burkhart posted an 18–8 mark with 22 starts and 20 relief appearances; his 18 victories and .692 winning percentage each tied him for third in the National League, while his 2.90 ERA ranked him seventh. His promising playing career was derailed when his arm was injured, and he retired at the end of the 1949 season and started his umpiring career.

A well regarded umpire chosen to umpire 3 different World Series and multiple All Star games, the play shown here was before a rather controversial play in the 1970 World Series. In Game 1 of the World Series that year between the Reds and Orioles, Burkhart collided with Orioles catcher Elrod Hendricks. With one out in the sixth inning and runners on the corners, pinch-hitter Ty Cline nubbed a pitch off Jim Palmer in front of the plate. Burkhart stepped forward to call a fair ball and found himself caught in the middle of a play when Hendricks – who initially intended to throw out Cline at first base – instead snatched up the ball and spun around in an attempt to tag out the runner Bernie Carbo coming home from third.

Hendricks tagged Carbo with his mitt while holding the ball in his other hand. Burkhart, who was knocked to the ground and had his back to the play, was in no position to make a correct call, called Carbo out.

Replays showed that Hendricks tagged Carbo with an empty glove and Carbo missed the plate, although he did touch the plate on his way back to the dugout. The score remained tied at 3–3, with the Orioles eventually winning he game 4–3, and the Series in 5 games.

4. Who was the Houston battery that surrendered the stolen base to Agee?

Larry Dierker was the pitcher and Johnny Edwards was the catcher making the throw that appears to have gotten away from Morgan and Menke.

5. Did Agee score that inning?

No, he didn’t. After stealing second, a wild pitch sent Agee to third. Despite having a man on third with no outs, the Mets failed to score as Harrelson struck out, Cleon Jones popped to second, and Shamsky grounded out to the pitcher.

6. Did the Mets win the game?

Yes, the Mets won the game 4 – 3 with a three-run rally in the 8th.

7. Were the pictures for any other 1971 Topps cards taken from that game?

As covered previously by MMO, the picture of the “Bud” Harrelson card from the 1971 Topps set was also taken from this game, and also was on a stolen base attempt at second. We are also researching another card from that set that seems likely was taken from this game.

Let’s put our collective Holmes deerstalker hat on the wall peg until next time when try to use our detective skills to determine the date and details of that card.

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LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger was named the 2019 National League Most Valuable Player today in voting conducted by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Bellinger earned 19 of the 30 first place votes and 10 second place votes, garnering 362 total points and finishing ahead of Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich (317 votes) and Washington’s Anthony Rendon (242 votes).

The 24-year-old becomes the eighth Dodger position player to win the award, joining Kirk Gibson (1988), Steve Garvey (1974), Maury Wills (1962), Roy Campanella (1951, 1953, 1955), Jackie Robinson (1949), Dolph Camilli (1941) and Jake Daubert (1913). He is the 12th player in the club history the win the award and the 14th time the Dodgers have rostered the MVP, which is tied for third most by a team with the Giants (14) and trailing only the Yankees (22) and Cardinals (20). The other Dodgers to receive the award are Clayton Kershaw (2014), Sandy Koufax (1963), Don Newcombe (1956) and Dazzy Vance (1924).

The Chandler High School (Az.) graduate becomes the first Arizona born player in Major League Baseball history to win the Most Valuable Player award and is the third Dodger player to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP, joining Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe. He is now the only player in franchise history to win the MVP, Rawlings Gold Glove and Louisville Silver Slugger in the same season.

Bellinger, in his third season with the Dodgers, appeared in a team-high 156 games, batting .305 (170-for-558) with 34 doubles, 47 homers and 115 RBI. He ranked among the NL leaders in batting average (.305, 9th), OBP (.406, 3rd), slugging percentage (.629, 2nd), OPS (1.035, 3rd), total bases (351, 1st), home runs (47, 3rd), runs (121, 2nd), RBI (115, 7th), walks (95, 6th) and extra-base hits (84, 2nd).

He concluded his regular season campaign recording career-highs in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, walks and stolen bases (15). He finished fourth in the Majors in homers and third in franchise history with 47 homers in a season, finishing behind only Shawn Green (49) and Adrian Beltre (48). His 26 homers at Dodger Stadium set a new franchise record for homers at home, while his 18 homers against left-handed pitchers were the most in the National League.

In the field, Bellinger appeared in 115 games in right field, 25 in center field and 36 at first base, recording a combined .991 fielding percentage with 19 combined assists. He led the National League with a .990 fielding percentage among right fielders, making two errors in 210 chances and was among the National League right field leaders in innings played (911.1, 7th), assists (10, 2nd), Ultimate Zone Rating (9.5, 2nd), range runs or RngR (5.6, 2nd), Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games (15.3, 1st) and Defensive Runs Saved (19, 1st). He finished tied for second in the Majors with San Diego’s Hunter Renfroe in defensive runs saved by an outfielder (22), finishing behind Washington’s Victor Robles (24).

Additionally, Bellinger claimed his first National League Player of the Week honors on April 8 after batting .429 (9-for-21) with three homers and 12 RBI from April 1-7. He added to the accolades at the end of the month with National League Player of the Month honors after slashing .431/.508/.890 with 14 homers and 37 RBI in 31 games. He set the MLB record for March/April (since 1900) with 97 total bases and had the most RBI by any player before May 1 since the RBI became a stat in 1920. His 14 home runs were also tied with Christian Yelich (2019), Alex Rodriguez (2007) and Albert Pujols (2006) for the most before May 1 in MLB history. He earned All-Star honors for the second time in his career (2017) and recorded his 100th career homer on August 2 against the Padres, becoming the fastest Dodger to reach the century mark (401 games).

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Over his career, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Robert Stephenson has struggled to be a starter. In 2019, however, it looks like he found a home in the bullpen.
Former first-round pick Robert Stephenson has struggled to live up to the hype since he debuted with the Cincinnati Reds in 2016. He has shown flashes, but inconsistencies have led to many fans questioning if he would ever develop into a major league starter. While he hasn’t done that, Stephenson found a home in the bullpen this season.

Stephenson’s inconsistency has long-since stemmed from his lack of command and the number of walks he allows. This issue has plagued Stephenson throughout his entire professional career, especially after his first two seasons in the minors.

Brewers add right-hander Jesus
Castillo as non-roster invitee

Robert Stephenson was one of the final players to make the cut coming out of spring training. At the time, I assumed there was no way that Stephenson would make the roster and probably be designated for assignment or traded since he was out of minor league options.

RHP, Cincinnati Reds
A -
In his first season as a full-time reliever in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, Robert Stephenson has a 3.82 ERA, 3.68 FIP and a 120 ERA+, meaning he was 20% better than the league average. Stephenson seemed to get his command issues under control, as he has walked only 24 batters in 63.2 innings. Stephenson has also struck out 80 opposing hitters this season.

Stephenson cutting his BB9, which through his first three seasons in the big leagues was 6.5, down to 3.4 this year is flat-out amazing. Not only that, but his strikeouts per 9 has improved as from 8.4 strikeouts per nine to 11.4 this season.

I thought Stephenson would be no more than a long relief option out of the bullpen. This was the case for a good portion of the season, but as the year went on, David Bell began using Stephenson when the stakes were high.

The improvements Stephenson made this season has elevated his role on the Cincinnati Reds. Whereas he used to be though of as liability when he toed the rubber, Stephenson is now counted on during key moments late in the game. One has to assume that pitching coach Derek Johnson probably had a lot to do with Stephenson’s transformation.

While Stephenson was originally drafted out of high school to be an elite-level starting pitcher, things don’t always work out as planned. Look at former starter turned reliever Andrew Miller. After five failed seasons as a starting pitcher, Miller found a home in the bullpen and has been regarded as one of the more dominant relievers in the game.

After the success we’ve seen this season from Robert Stephenson, I feel confident in his ability to join Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett and Raisel Iglesias in the back of the Cincinnati Reds bullpen hading into the 2020 season.

NEXT: Reds 2010-2019 all-decade team
It’s nice to see a player like Stephenson, who’s had so many struggles throughout his professional career, finally have a season that he can look at as a success. Stephenson gets an A in my book for his performance this season.

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CINCINNATI, OHIO – As Cincinnati welcomes the start of the season and celebrates the 150th anniversary of professional baseball in 2019, FOX Sports Ohio is excited to announce its coverage of Cincinnati Reds Opening Day on Thursday, March 28th.

Fans should tune in to FOX Sports Ohio starting at 9:00 a.m. for a full day of coverage of one of the biggest Opening Day celebrations in all of MLB. The network will feature interviews with guests from the Reds and local community with live coverage of the city-wide celebration. See below for the complete schedule.

A broadcast team of 10, including broadcasters Chris Welsh, Thom Brennaman, Jim Day, Jeff Piecoro, Brian Giesenschlag, Sam LeCure, George Grande, Shannon Ford, Pat Barry and Katherine Nero, will all play a role.

Cincinnati Reds Opening Day on FOX Sports Ohio

9:00 a.m.: All NEW Links to the Game

Debut of a new Links to the Game, featuring Reds LHP Kent Mercker and former Reds RHP Bronson Arroyo golfing with Welsh and PGA professional and golf host Jimmy Hanlin.
Get to know Merker and Arroyo off the field as they join Welsh and Hanlin on the links at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio.
10:00 a.m.: Live coverage of Reds Opening Day celebration throughout Cincinnati

Piecoro and Giesenschlag will host from Washington Park.
Grande will anchor from the Reds Live set at Great American Ball Park.
Barry will report from Findlay Market.
Ford will be live from the Reds Community Fund Charity Block Party at The Banks.
12 noon: Live coverage of the 100th Findlay Market Opening Day Parade

Day and Nero will host parade coverage from Washington Park. Barry will report from parade step off area.
Ford will continue to update from the Reds Community Fund Charity Block Party at The Banks.
2:30 p.m.: Reds Live pre-game show

A special 90-minute Reds Live pre-game show will begin at 2:30 p.m. Giesenschlag, Piecoro and LeCure will host from the desk and Day will report from the field. The show, presented by Ray St. Clair Roofing, will provide fans commentary, features, and in-depth pre-game coverage including the on-field ceremonies.
Local 12 WKRC-TV in Cincinnati will simulcast Reds Live pre-game show beginning at 2:30 p.m. as well as the game.
4:00 p.m.: Reds vs. Pirates

Welsh and Brennaman will call the action.
Reds Live postgame show

Immediately following the final out, Reds Live postgame show, presented by Performance Kings Honda, will include highlights, player interviews and analysis. Day will host from the desk and Piecoro will report from the dugout.
Streaming on FOX Sports GO

If you’re not at home to catch FOX Sports Ohio’s coverage on TV, watch on the GO! You can watch the network’s coverage of the Reds on your phone or tablet with FOX Sports GO. FOX Sports GO is available to customers of participating pay-TV providers on iOS, Android, Fire tablets and Fire phones, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, select Windows devices, and online at FOXSportsGO.com. Fans can download the mobile app for free from the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Amazon App Store and Windows Store.

Digital & Social Coverage

FOXSportsOhio.com will bring Reds fans the latest news all season long.
Follow on Twitter:
FOX Sports Ohio – @FOXSportsOH
Brian Giesenschlag – @BGiesenschlag
Chris Welsh – @ThinkPitch
Dan Hoard – @Dan_Hoard
Doug Flynn – @BLFishing
Jeff Brantley – @RedsCowboy
Jeff Piecoro – @JeffPiecoro
Jim Day – @JimDayTV
Sam LeCure – @mrLeCure
Shannon Ford – @Shannon_Ford
Like on Facebook – www.Facebook.com/FOXSportsOhio
Follow on Instagram – FOXSportsOH
SnapChat with us @FOXSportsOH
The FOX Sports Ohio Reds Fan Express, presented by Kroger, will also be part of celebration. Look for the Reds 150thAnniversary-themed bus in the 100th Findlay Market Opening Day Parade. Chris Welsh will walk in the parade along with the West End Reds baseball and softball teams, FOX Sports Ohio’s sponsored youth organization in partnership with the Reds Community Fund.

About FOX Sports Ohio

FOX Sports Ohio is the television home of the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Cavaliers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Columbus Crew, Cincinnati Bearcats, and ACC and Big East football and basketball. FOX Sports Ohio and sister network SportsTime Ohio present more live, local sports programming than any other network or broadcast system in the market, producing over 750 live sporting events including 4,800 hours of live and original programming every year Together, the two networks reach over five million households in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, western Pennsylvania, western New York, and West Virginia. For complete regional sports news, telecast schedules and updated statistics, log-on to www.FOXSportsOhio.com.

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If you are a Cincinnati Reds fan, or a baseball fan in general, you are probably monitoring the MLB trade market pretty tightly. If you just love trades, you are probably doing something similar. If you are both, then this is one of the best parts of the baseball season. Rumors swirl, deals get made and the fortunes of franchises shift.

But trades are not just a baseball thing. Player swapping happens in all four of the “major” sports in the United States, including football, basketball and hockey. That means every city has its own transaction highs and lows and Cincinnati is no different. Even if the Cincinnati Bearcats can’t make trades, that doesn’t mean the professional teams they share a city with can’t. So let’s rank the ones that have been made by professional sports teams in Cincinnati.

Johnny’s Five Up
1. Joe Morgan Gets All the Ladies

The most important trade in the history of National League baseball is Joe Morgan to the Reds in 1971. Flanked by Cesar Geronimo and Jack “Actually Your Father” Billingham, this deal saw the Houston Astros crumble and the rise of the Big Red Machine. The Astros wouldn’t recover until 1986.

2. Don’t let the Door Hit You, Frank

Frank Robinson played some great years of ball with the Orioles, don’t get me wrong, but Bill DeWitt had the right idea. (The “old 30” line doesn’t hold up, but the need for change did). The players acquired didn’t amount to much, but the Big Red Machine couldn’t have coalesced around a locker room issue like the one alleged between Robinson and Pinson. Robinson needed to go. Pinson needed to go. Youth flourished in the vacuum.

3. Bet on Charlie Hustle

In 1984 the Expos were in the middle of their 15th annual rebuilding year, and they dealt Pete Rose back home to Cincinnati. Like teammates Gary Carter, Terry Francona, Tim Raines, Andre Dawson and Jeff Reardon, he went on to have a great career with another team. Also he bet on baseball games a lot which made Reds games exciting! He turned Mr. Redlegs into Mr. Brokenlegs when he wouldn’t pay up.

4. The Ricky Williams Non-Deal

Mike Brown didn’t want to deal with Master P, and I can respect that. And look at the guys that the fabled nine draft picks would have gotten for the Bengals. Cade McNown, D’Wayne Bates, Nate Stimson, Khari Samuel, Desmond Clark, Billy Miller, LaVar Arrington and Lloyd Harrison. Feature attractions for any team. Akili Smith? Now there’s a guy you can depend upon!

5. Christy Matthewson Was a Liability Anyway

Yeah, yeah, you lived a clean-cut lifestyle, and you died of TB like the rest of us. Amos “the Hoosier Thunderbolt” Rusie on the other hand lived to the unfathomably old age of 61. A man of vigor, to be certain.

San Diego Chargers v Cincinnati Bengals
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Johnny’s Five Down
1. The Carson Palmer Mortgage:

Everyone thinks that Marvin’s so smart because he was able to make Andy Dalton workable. Dre Kirkpatrick and Gio Bernard were both noisy nothings in the grand scheme of the Bengals’ history. Kirkpatrick’s always been a platoon guy, and without Adam Jones, his weaknesses become more and more apparent yearly. Bernard’s best play was getting destroyed by Ryan Shazier. Andy Dalton made three Pro Bowls because Tom Brady thinks red jerseys are unlucky. On the whole, the Bungles managed to make themselves win the Off-Season Deal Participation Award. Great job with your two-hour time in the 5k Fun Run. Carson wouldn’t have solved any problems, but acting like this trade was a stroke of genius is lying to history.

2. Eric the Red’s Voyage West

Dealing Eric Davis for Tim Belcher and John friggin’ Wetteland is like swapping a Bugatti Veyron for a Vespa. Yes, you’ll get to your destination, but you’ll be so embarrassed when you get there that you’ll be too shy to talk to girls.

3. Boomer on Broadway

Trading Boomer Esiason to the Jets was the first step in making the Cincinnati Bengals the cannon-fodder team that they are. More a Mike Brown move than a Paul Brown move. Take a poop with your pants on, Mike Brown.

4. More like Don Hoax

Whammy Douglas, Jim Pendleton and Johnny Powers? Wow, let’s give up Smoky Burgess, Harvey Haddix and Don Hoak so that Pittsburgh can win the pennant. It’s great that the Reds got Frank Thomas in this deal. The downside is that it’s the wrong Frank Thomas, because Big Hurt wasn’t born until 1968.


For Tony Perez. Sparky was clearly in the sauce that day.

Cincinnati Bengals v San Francisco 49ers
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Clayton’s Five Up
1. Reds acquire Joe Morgan from Astros for Lee May and Tommy Helms (1971)

Watch out for that Joe Morgan guy. He might have himself a career.

2. Reds Acquire Tom Seaver from Mets (1977)

Be bold. Make something happen. That’s what the Reds did in the Summer of 1977. “Tom Terrific” came over and posted a 14-3 mark for the Reds, who fell short of yet another NL West crown that season. Seaver pitched well for three more seasons for the Reds. The guys the Reds gave up amounted to little more than a bag of balls and a batting tee. Good deal.

3. Bengals acquire James Brooks from San Diego (1984)

Cincinnati flipped running backs with San Diego before the 1984 season. San Diego acquired Pete Johnson, who had been a stalwart in the Cincinnati backfield in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but proved to be near the end of his career. The Bengals picked up Brooks, who earned four Pro Bowl nods and helped guide the Bengals to an AFC Championship in 1988.

4. Bengals acquire Reggie Nelson from Jacksonville (2010)

In exchange for David Jones and a conditional pick that fizzled, the Bengals got themselves six seasons of excellent free safety play. In 2015, Nelson led the NFL in interceptions and garnered a Pro Bowl selection before signing as a free agent with Oakland.

5. Bengals acquire Brian Leonard from St. Louis (2009)

The star of Hard Knocks got his start in Cincinnati after landing there in a deal for D-lineman Orien Harris. Leonard was a versatile backfield contributor for four seasons in Cincinnati (2009-2012).

Kansas City Royals v Cleveland Indians
Clayton’s Five Down
1. Reds trade Frank Robinson to Baltimore (1965)

Milt Pappas had a pretty good career but not a Hall of Fame, MVP-in-both-leagues, 500 home runs Frank Robinson career.

2. Reds Trade Curt Flood to St. Louis (1957)

Curt Flood provided the Cardinals with more than a decade’s worth of standout play in center field. He was a major contributor on their 1964 and 1967 World Series winning clubs. Not to besmirch the legacies of Ted Wieand, Willard Schmidt and Marty Kutyna, but none of them reached quite that level.

3. Reds Trade Shane Rawley to Mariners (1977)

Southpaw Shane Rawley won himself 111 career games and earned a 1986 NL All Star Team bid. Outfielder Dave Collins, whom the Reds acquired in the deal, did not.

4. Reds Trade Ross Grimsley to Baltimore (1973)

See No. 3. Just insert “124 Wins,” “Merv Rettenmund,” and “Got sued in 1975 for pegging a heckler in the rightfield bleachers at Fenway Park with a ball.”

5. Nothing to See Here. The Bengals Always Make Great Deals. Don’t you see all of their Super Bowl rings?

Ken Griffey Jr.
Phil’s Five Up
1. Cincinnati Reds trade with the Seattle Mariners for Ken Griffey Jr. (2000)

Griffey was the most exciting position player of his era and the Reds were able to flip Mike Cameron, Antonio Perez, Brett Tomko and Jake Meyer for his services. In his first season, Griffey hit 40 home runs, had an OPS of .942 and made his 11th-straight All Star game. Although he would never match that production again as a Red, it was still awesome to see him in a Reds uniform for nine years.

2. Cincinnati Reds trade a player to be named later to Cleveland for Brandon Phillips (2006)

The Reds both traded for and traded away Phillips. Dat Dude was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos and then made his way to Cleveland in 2002 when the Expos traded him, Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Lee Stevens for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew. I’d say Cleveland got plenty in return for Colon, especially since he only pitched 17 games for Montreal. That’s even when you consider the fact that Phillips really didn’t hit his stride until he was dealt to the Reds in 2006. In 11 years he was worth 31.2 wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference, before he was traded to the Atlanta Braves in 2017.

What makes this deal even better is the Reds gave up pretty much nothing. Phillips was dealt for a player to be named later. That player turned out to be pitcher Jeff Stevens, who never appeared in a game in Cleveland and was worth -0.7 WAR before his career ended.

3. Cincinnati Reds acquire Joe Morgan and others from the Houston Astros in exchange for Lee May, Tommy Helms and Jimmy Stewart (1971)

Those first two deals earned their ranking for both objective and subjective reasons. Griffey and BP or two of my personal favorite players. Now we are looking at a deal that was just objectively excellent. Morgan had already played 10 years in the big leagues before his first team, the Houston Astros, dealt him to Cincinnati. In his first season after the trade, Morgan came in fourth in MVP voting and led baseball in runs, walks and on-base percentage. He made the All Star game that year and the next seven, winning back-to-back MVPs in 1975 and 1976 and helping to form the Big Red Machine.

There were some good players that the Astros got in return, especially power-hitting Lee May, who hit 354 career home runs, but all three of the guys Morgan was traded for accounted for only 34.3 combined WAR in their careers. Morgan was worth 58.0 in his eight years with Cincinnati alone.

4. Cincinnati Bengals acquire James Brooks from the San Diego Chargers in exchange for Pete Johnson

I’ll let our pals over at Cincy Jungle take this one.

Top-Five Player Trades In Bengals History:

The James Brooks Steal Comes In At No. 1
5. Cincinnati Reds acquire Tom Seaver from the New York Mets in exchange for Doug Flynn, Steven Henderson, Dan Norman and Pat Zachry

When you can deal for a three-time Cy Young winner, you’ve got to do it.

Honorable Mention: Reds trading for Scott Rolen (2009). Reds trading for Bronson Arroyo (2006). Reds trading Todd Frazier (2015). Bengals trading Carson Palmer (2011)

Tony Perez looks on
Photo by: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Phil’s Five Down
In descending order, as always

5. Cincinnati Reds Aaron Boone to the New York Yankees for Brandon Claussen and Charlie Manning

In addition to runnning Down the Drive, I also moonlight as a writer at Over the Monster. The OTM writer in me knows that this deal led to this:

4. Cincinnati Reds trade Tony Perez (and Will McEnaney) to the Montreal Expos for Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray (1976)

Perez had just finished his age-34 season when the Reds sent him to Montreal. Despite his increasing age, Perez still managed to be a worthwhile big leaguer after being dealt. Fryman and Murray were not so much, at least for the Reds, as both were off the team by the end of 1978.

3. Cincinnati Reds trade Frank Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles for Milt Pappas, Dick Thompson and Jack Baldschun (1965)

The Reds traded Robinson and in his first year in Baltimore he won an MVP award while leading the majors in runs, home runs, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+ and total bases. I feel like the Reds could have used a guy like that.

2. Cincinnati Bengals DO NOT trade with the New Orleans Saints in 1999

1. Cincinnati Royals trade Oscar Robertson to the Milwaukee Bucks for Flynn Robinson and Charlie Paulk (1970)

Even if the Royals would move out of Cincinnati two years later and become the Kansas City-Omaha Kings, how could they trade away the best Bearcat ever?!

Disagree with us? Let us know in the comments, on Twitter or via a FanPost. Also, if you want us to rank something specific next week, let us know.

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Sometimes, as I sit in my mezzanine seats at Great American Ball Park, I hear fans sitting nearby – casual fans, folks who do not, like some of us, live and breathe Reds baseball all year long – talking about the circular plaques on the façade behind home plate, just below the press box and broadcast booths.

They wonder out loud about what those red numbers in those circles represent. On the face of it, they have no rhyme nor reason.

This is when I will often butt into their conversations and explain what is going on.

Most Reds fans know this, as do visitors from other parts of the country, whose ball parks back home have their own set of numbers on display.

They are retired numbers – numbers which belonged to players so great, so memorable, that the Cincinnati Reds have decided that no future player will ever wear that number again.

To the major league baseball player, it is an honor exceeded only by election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, where their bronze plaques will hang in that shrine forever as a reminder of the greatest of the great.

Having your number retired is an honor accorded to an elite few.

The Cincinnati Reds have 10 numbers hanging on the façade behind home plate. Six of them belong to players (and one manager) who also have plaques at Cooperstown.

And one, 42, in blue numbers, is retired throughout baseball – the number that belonged to Jackie Robinson, who became the first black to break baseball’s color line in 1947.

It wasn’t until the late 1930s that all of the teams in major league baseball wore numbers on their backs.

That means that there were legendary players who have plaques in the Hall of Fame who can’t have a retired number. They had no number to begin with. They include Hall of Famers like Bid McPhee, the incredibly talented second baseman of the 1880s and 1890s, and Edd Roush, the star player on the 1919 World Series championship team.

In 1939, Reds general manager Warren Giles set a standard for uniform numbers that lasted for decades but is now more or less ignored.

Giles set up a system where pitchers would wear numbers between 30 and 49, outfielders would wear 20 to 29, infielders 10-19 and catchers, coaches and managers would wear single digit numbers.

The Reds’ 10 retired numbers follow that standard for the most part.

So who are these 10 Reds whose numbers are on the wall?

Chances are you have heard of most of them, even if you don’t follow baseball or know much about them.

1 – The number which belonged to Fred Hutchinson, retired in 1965, after the Reds manager died of cancer in Nov. 1964 at the age of 45. He was the manager who ended the Reds 21-year drought by dragging a young, underdog team to a National League pennant in 1961. The upstart Reds lost the World Series to an incredibly talented New York Yankees team in five games. Hutch’s legacy lives on with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

5 – It was the number worn by Johnny Bench, the catcher from Binger, Okla. Most will tell you he was the greatest catcher in major league history. He played his entire 17-year career with the Reds and compiled some astounding achievements – two National League MVP awards, 10 National League Gold Glove Awards for his defensive skills, and a 14-time National League All Star. Bench, a leader on the Big Red Machine teams of the 1970s, was inducted into Cooperstown in 1989, his first year of eligibility.

Cincinnati Reds’ catcher Johnny Bench in March 1969.
8 – Joe Morgan. Without question, the greatest second baseman in Reds history. He came here in 1972 in a blockbuster trade with the Houston Astros. And he turned out to be the final piece needed to create the juggernaut known as The Big Red Machine. Morgan won the National League MVP in 1975 and 1976 – both years in which the Reds were World Series champions. Morgan was a 10-time All Star and five time Gold Glove winner.

10 – Sparky Anderson. “The Main Spark.” Or as he was better known to Reds fans when he was hired to manage the club in 1970, “Sparky who?” He will go down in baseball history as the first manager to win World Series championships in both leagues – 1975 and 1976 with the Reds and 1984 with the Detroit Tigers. There’s no question that the late Sparky Anderson was the most beloved manager in the Reds’ long history.

11 – This number belongs to a local kid – Barry Larkin of Silverton and Moeller High School. He retired in 2004 after 19 seasons, all with the Reds. And he was voted into Cooperstown in 2012. Larkin and his friend Eric Davis were the leaders of the 1990 “Wire to Wire” World Champion Reds. Five years later, he earned the National League MVP award. A 12-time All Star, nine-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and three-time Gold Glove recipient, he became, in 1996, the first shortstop in big league history to have a 30 home run, 30 stolen base season.

Barry Larkin in 1990.
13 – David Concepcion. For 19 seasons before Larkin arrived on the scene, the Venezuelan was the Reds’ shortstop, and there are many who believe he deserves a place in Cooperstown alongside Larkin. Concepcion was a nine-time NL All Star and five-time NL Gold Glove winner.

14 – On June 26, 2016, Pete Rose’s number 14 joined the other retired numbers – but only with special permission from the baseball commissioner’s office. He was banned from baseball for gambling in 1989, while he was managing the club. But he is the all-time hit leader in baseball, with 4,256 base hits over a 24-year playing career. Rose was the 1973 NL MVP, a three-time batting champion and one of the undisputed leaders of the Big Red Machine of the 1970s.

Pete Rose immediately after breaking Ty Cobb’s record of 4,191 career base hits in 1985.
18 – Big Klu. Indiana native Ted Kluszewski was famous for wearing cut-off jerseys, showing his massive biceps off to opposing pitchers, who usually got the message – this man was strong as an ox. The Reds’ dominant slugger of the 1950s, Klu was a four-time All Star. His 1954 season was incredible – a .326 batting average, 49 home runs and 141 RBI.

20 – Frank Robinson. Some would say he was the greatest Red of them all. Robby died in February at the age of 83. In his 10 years with the Reds, he won the Rookie of the Year award and was the NL MVP in 1961. Older Reds fans still cringe over what they consider the worst trade in Reds history, when, after the 1965 season, the Reds sent Robinson to the Orioles in exchange for pitchers Milt Pappas and Jack Baldschun and outfielder Dick Simpson. All Robby did in his first year with Baltimore was win the American League MVP and the Triple Crown – leading the league in homes runs, batting average and runs batted in.

Frank Robinson in March 1957.
24 – The Big Dog. Tony Perez. The Cuban-born slugger became one of the most beloved players in Reds history and a key component of the Big Red Machine. A seven-time All Star, he hit 379 home runs over his 23-year career and retired with the second-most RBIs among players from Latin America: 1,652. He was inducted into Cooperstown in 2000.

Those are the 10 immortals. If you can think of other Reds you believe deserve the honor of a retired number, leave a message on this story.

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The Cincinnati Reds have had their fair share of National League MVPs over the years – 10 players have won the award 12 times.

Four of them have been enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown – it would likely have been five, had Pete Rose not been banned from baseball in 1989 for betting on the game.

Because the Reds’ list of MVPs is so extensive, we’ve broken out this roundup into two articles. You can read Part I here; Part II follows:

Pete Rose (1973)

The man played baseball like his hair was on fire.

Running full-bore down to first base – on a walk. Head-first, airborne belly-slides into third base, like a plane landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Barreling into catchers at home plate and sending them flying.

There was no one who ever played as hard as this Cincinnati-born “river rat” who came to the Reds in 1963 with much fanfare – fanfare that he turned into a Rookie of the Year award.

There are many records in baseball that will be hard to match, but Rose’s all-time record of 4,256 base hits may stand forever. Who else is going to play at the major league level for 24 years and have 10 seasons of 200 or more hits? Hard to imagine in this day and age of Major League Baseball.

His one MVP year came in 1973, a year where the Reds won the division but got knocked out of the playoffs by the Mets, but not until Rose and the Mets’ Bud Harrelson had a knock-down, drag-out fight that emptied the benches and set the New York crowd into a garbage-throwing frenzy.

In 1973, Rose had what was, more or less, a typical season for him when he was in his prime – he led the league in at-bats (680), hits (230), and batting average (.338).

During his career, he started in 16 All Star games at five different positions.

World Series titles came, finally, for the Big Red Machine in 1975 and 1976.

And then came free agency.

He signed as a free agent with the Phillies and played there until moving on to the Montreal Expos in 1984. In August of that season, Montreal traded Rose to the Reds to become player-manager. And it was the following season when he lifted a single into centerfield and broke Ty Cobb’s all-time hits record of 4,191.

He retired as a player in the middle of the 1986 season, but remained on as manager.

But it was the 1989 investigation by the baseball commissioner’s office into allegations of Rose betting on baseball – including the Reds – that was his downfall. It led to him being placed on baseball’s permanently ineligible list and has cost him dearly – a plaque on the wall at Cooperstown.

He would be enshrined there now, with his teammates, but he has no one to blame but himself.

Joe Morgan (1975, 1976)

Joe Morgan watches the ball fly as he a hit home run in first inning of the All Star Game at Yankee Stadium in New York July 19, 1977. Morgan was the National League’s first batter.
For those two years (and maybe more), there was no denying the fact that “Little Joe” Morgan was the single best player in Major League Baseball.

Amazing, considering how much wailing and gnashing of teeth there were among Reds fans with the blockbuster trade that brought Morgan, a nine-year veteran, from the Houston Astros to the Reds.

The Astros sent Morgan, Ed Armbrister, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo and Denis Menke to the Reds for Lee May, Tommy Helms and Jimmy Stewart.

May and Helms were extremely popular with Reds fans. They had little idea who this “Little Joe” Morgan was.

They soon found out.

A superb base-stealer, Morgan had a rare combination of power and speed and the ability to make contact. His on-base percentage of .466 in 1975 and .444 in 1976 were jaw-dropping numbers.

Little wonder the Reds were the World Series champions in both of the years when “Little Joe” won the MVP.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Joe Morgan was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990, his first year of eligibility.

And a bronze statue of “Little Joe” greets fans coming into Great American Ball Park, along with statues of his teammates – Bench, Rose and Tony Perez.

George Foster (1977)

George Foster served as Grand Marshal at the 2013 Findlay Market Opening Day parade.
The heavy-hitting outfielder his teammates called “Yahtzee” – he loved playing the game in the clubhouse – had one of the greatest individual seasons any Red had ever had or has ever had since he was awarded the National League MVP in 1977.

Foster was a power hitter, but the numbers he put up in 1977 – a year when the Reds finished second, 10 games behind the Dodgers – are almost insanely good:

Foster led the league in home runs (52), RBI (149), total bases (388) and slugging percentage (.631).
He also had 197 base hits and a .320 batting average that season.
His 52 home runs and 149 RBI were Reds franchise records that still stand today.

Foster came to the Reds in a trade in 1971 that was definitely in the Reds’ favor – the Reds sent minor league pitcher Vern Geishert and shortstop Frank Duffy to the San Francisco Giants, where Foster was playing with his childhood hero, Willie Mays.

The Big Red Machine of the 1970s was complete when manager Sparky Anderson asked Pete Rose to move from the outfield to third base in the middle of the 1974 season, allowing Foster to play left field every day. Foster became the final piece of “The Great Eight” – one of the post potent line-ups ever put on a baseball field.

Barry Larkin (1995)

The ultimate hometown kid who made good.

Larkin grew up in the Cincinnati suburb of Silverton in a family where all the Larkin kids were involved in sports (his brother Byron is the all-time scoring leader for the Xavier Musketeers basketball team).

He was a standout athlete at Moeller High School and went on to the University of Michigan where he was a two-time All-American and the first to win the Big Ten baseball MVP award twice.

The Reds made him their first-round draft pick in 1985. By the next season, his extraordinary defensive and offensive talent saw him make his major league debut.

Larkin won the NL MVP in 1995, a year when the Reds won the National League West crown and went to the playoffs. He hit .319 that year, with 15 home runs and 61 RBI.

But in fact, the next season, 1996, was probably the best of his 19-year major league career, with 33 home runs and 89 RBI. It was also the year when he became the first shortstop in history to record 30 home runs (36) and 30 stolen bases (32) in a single season.

At the age of 40, Larkin played his last major league game on October 3, 2004. In 2012, he was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Joey Votto (2010)

Go to Great American Ball Park on any given day – or night – and count the number of kids and adults wearing jerseys with the name Votto and the number 19 on the back.

They are everywhere.

For the past 13 seasons, the left-handed hitting first basemen – a native of Toronto – has been the favorite of Reds fans – even in a year like 2019 when the 35-year-old has been off to a slow start at the plate.

Still, the influence Votto – considered one of the smartest hitters in the game – has had on his younger teammates like Jesse Winker and Derek Dietrich is immeasurable.

Votto was the Reds’ second round draft pick in 2002. He labored in the minor leagues before getting his shot at being a major leaguer at a September call-up in 2007. After being called up Sept. 1, he hit a home run in his second major league at bat and hit .321 over 24 games.

In May 2009, he was batting .357 when he went on the disabled list, where he stayed for the next three weeks. It was reported that Votto was suffering from deep depression and anxiety over the sudden death of his father the summer before. He got the help he needed and was soon back in the line-up, finishing the season with a .322 batting average.

In 2010, Votto was on fire. He hit .324, with 37 home runs and 113 RBI. That was more than enough to earn him the National League MVP.

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The Reds could use some bullpen help, and 75-year-old Clay Carroll is ready.

Carroll, a relief pitcher in the Big Red Machine era, is among the Reds Hall of Famers in town this weekend for the team’s Hall of Fame induction and jersey retirement of Pete Rose. In a media Q-and-A Saturday with Reds Hall of Famers in the Great American Ball Park field level interview room, Rose at one point mentioned the team’s 2016 relief corps, which entered the day with a major-league worst 6.21 bullpen ERA. Rose looked down the row and asked Carroll if he might be able to help.

“I’m ready,” Carroll replied. “I’d go out there and play for $100,000 right now.”

Clay Carroll led the National League in saves in 1972 with 37.
Clay Carroll led the National League in saves in 1972 with 37. (Photo: Enquirer file)

Carroll, nicknamed “The Hawk,” was born May 2, 1941 in Clanton, Alabama. Carroll was a two-time All-Star (1971 and ’72) with the Reds, playing with the team from 1968-75. Carroll’s last MLB appearance was with Pittsburgh in 1978.

Doc: Tough not having Joe Morgan at Pete Rose’s induction

MORE ON ROSE: Reds CEO Bob Castellini, during his ceremonial remarks on the field, said it was apparent from Rose’s early major league days in 1963 that he was a special player.

“We knew that you would have no ordinary major league career,” Castellini said. “Every one of your 14,000 major league at-bats was approached as a duel between you and the pitcher. … You taught us that heart and hustle is the difference between great athletes and legends.”

LARKIN ON ROSE: Barry Larkin recalled how he and his baseball buddies idolized Rose and other Reds players while youngsters. Larkin eventually went from Moeller High School to the University of Michigan to the Reds, and he became a member of both the Reds Hall of Fame and National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Rose was Larkin’s first major league manager with the Reds in 1986.

Larkin and about 25 other Reds Hall of Famers flanked Rose during the pre-induction media session.

“Growing up watching all these guys, we would go outside and try to imitate what they did,” Larkin said. “If I came home at the end of the day and I didn’t have grass stains on the top of my pants, my Mom would ask me, ‘Ah, you didn’t do the Pete Rose slide today, did you?’ ”

Pete Rose on Reds HOF: ‘Biggest thing ever’

RONNIE O: Reds Hall of Famer Ron Oester, from Withrow High School, was asked again Saturday what it feels like to make his hometown team’s Hall of Fame.

“What makes it even more special is I watched a lot of these guys up here play when I was a real little kid,” the 60-year-old Oester said, drawing laughter as he emphasized the word “real.”

Doc: Swan song of the Big Red Machine