Some minor news today. First, this:

The Reds have signed minor league free agent Chris Burke, a former first-round pick of the Astros, to a minor-league deal, Jocketty said.

Burke hit .239/.315/.359 in parts of six major league seasons and will turn 30 in March. His best season was 2006, when he played in 123 games for the Astros and hit .276/.347/.418 with 9 home runs and 40 RBIs. He has played every position but pitcher and catcher in his big league career. He played last season for San Diego, but finished the season in the Braves’ system.

“I think we see him as a potential candidate for the utility role on the major league club and if nothing else, he’ll play at Louisville, he’s from Louisville, it’s his hometown and he’s very excited about the possibility to play for either club,” Jocketty said. “He’s an experienced guy that might be able to help us.”

Also, in the AA phase of the Rule V draft, the Reds drafted Douglas Salinas, a RHP from the Tampa Bay organization and lost LHP Ben Jukich to the Cardinals.

Otherwise, nothing new to report from the winter meetings. Move on, nothing to see here. Jocketty continues to say he “really likes” the club as it stands right now. I can’t imagine why, but I’m willing to hope for the best.

24 Responses

  1. mike

    almost every team is making small moves. Small trades, signing utility guys, big trades, claiming players, etc.

    the Reds have done next to nothing. Sad

    but you left off a very import transaction

    10) The Mariners signed CF Corey Patterson to a minor league contract.

    at least there is one bad move the Reds can’t make

  2. brublejr

    I like the Burke signing, gives AAA depth at worst, good guy, from L’Ville, makes sense.

    As far as them not doing anything, sometimes that is better than trying too hard. Yes, we would all love for them to go out and sign the best pitcher and hitter available, but that will never ever happen. So sometimes standing pat is better than trading valuable pieces away to try to get “veteran” players to make a run for one season. I much rather go into the season with young players fighting for spots and playing time over crappy veterans (JHJ, Patterson, Gonzo, Lincoln, etc…) getting all the playing time.

    So for me, the off season will be a success if they keep their young core together, and cut bait on Willy Taveras & Mike Lincoln. (Given them making a combined $6.5 mil, it probably won’t happen 👿 )

  3. RedinFla

    I find myself wishing the Reds would do SOMETHING — then I realize that it’s more of a vague dissatisfaction with the 2009 season as a whole and maybe not a player problem at all. (with the exception of W.T.)
    Pretty much anything the Reds could afford would be a lateral move, swapping our guys for pretty much the same guys who just wore a different uniform last season.
    Staying with the current roster could work, if the “powers that be” would simply listen to the wisdom of the Nation… :mrgreen:

  4. JasonL

    Maybe this is just the same off-season optimism I always have, but it seems like the Reds have pretty effectively gone young (Votto, Bruce, Stubbs, Bailey, Cueto, etc.) and it’s really just a matter of seeing if they develop. If so, they might be good. If not, well, you know.

  5. Drew Nelson

    Why must the Reds make a move right now? Outside of some bench help, what do the Reds really have to address that can be that much upgraded with a limited budget and a limited choice selection. I like what we have, and since no managerial change is going to happen, you have to hope we can stay healthy.

  6. WORLD

    Until the attendance at Reds games greatly exceeds 15,000 or so, be prepared to continue battling the Pirates for the honor of 5th place. Obviously Jay Bruce and Joey Votto are going to bolt the Queen City as soon as they can for the greener pastures of New York, Boston, or LA and that sucks. The naked truth is that unless the Reds significantly up their payroll, you are constantly going to be either rebuilding or talking about signing players such as Burke and Counsell.

    Bob Castellini is a businessman, first and last. He’s not going to lose money in this endeavor. He just is not.

    The two time defending NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies would be just as tight fisted as are the Reds (they were known for that for many years) but for the fact that they are selling out the joint every game. The enormous amount of money that flows from an additonal 28,000 fans per game and the beer and the souvernirs and the parking and the merchandising, etc., allows the Philly brass to go out and play the game the way it needs to be played now. Of course, the Piper will be paid in a couple seasons when Ryan Howard and Utley and Rollins and Werth and Hamels and Co. will be standing outside Amaro’s door with their hands open. But right now, the Phillies players have the shiny rings on their fingers and their bosses are talking Halladay and extensions for Lee. The Reds are talking Counsell and Burke.

    I’m not blaming the Queen City’s faithful fans for not spending their hard earned dollars for a very mediocre product. It’s just a vicious circle- you need to spend money to make money and the Phillies and Steinbrenner & Co. and their ilk do just that. I have recently been told by someone in the know whom I respect that Castellini may in fact have more money than George and his sons. Whether this is fact, I have no idea.

    But it is clear that these two organizations aren’t in the same league when it comes to the, excuse me, Yankee dollar. Be that good or bad, it’s how it is.

  7. Steve Price

    Baseball owners don’t lose money….the only ownership group in the last fifty years to lose money were the Seattle Pilots ownership group which jumped ship too soon when they sold to Bud Selig who moved the team to Milwaukee after only one year in Seattle.

    Franchise values rise every year…now…operating income is another matter, and, even then, the Reds don’t lose money since the luxury taxes paid by teams like the Yankees and Red Sox help with a huge chunk of the Reds’ operating expenses. We’re essentially paid to lose, and only the Reds ownership can break that habit by deciding to spend money in order to make money.

    Baseball owners enjoy the prestige of ownership, but losers don’t like to see cash flow dissipating….if Castellini does have the cash to manage year to year, it’s a crying shame that he wouldn’t invest enough in the team to make it a winning team…and then the franchise value would skyrocket that much faster.

    History has shown that there’s normally a one year delay in fans’ acceptance of accepting a good major league team…it takes one year for fans to believe a team is for real, but the dropoff is much faster if a team starts losing. (don’t get me wrong…there’s a huge bump at playoff time for a winning team, but it takes fans a while to realize a team is for real).

    • jason1972

      Post of the Year.

      Steve Price: Baseball owners don’t lose money….the only ownership group in the last fifty years to lose money were the Seattle Pilots ownership group which jumped ship too soon when they sold to Bud Selig who moved the team to Milwaukee after only one year in Seattle.Franchise values rise every year…now…operating income is another matter, and, even then, the Reds don’t lose money since the luxury taxes paid by teams like the Yankees and Red Sox help with a huge chunk of the Reds’ operating expenses.We’re essentially paid to lose, and only the Reds ownership can break that habit by deciding to spend money in order to make money.Baseball owners enjoy the prestige of ownership, but losers don’t like to see cash flow dissipating….if Castellini does have the cash to manage year to year, it’s a crying shame that he wouldn’t invest enough in the team to make it a winning team…and then the franchise value would skyrocket that much faster.History has shown that there’s normally a one year delay in fans’ acceptance of accepting a good major league team…it takes one year for fans to believe a team is for real, but the dropoff is much faster if a team starts losing. (don’t get me wrong…there’s a huge bump at playoff time for a winning team, but it takes fans a while to realize a team is for real).

  8. Steve Price

    Oh…on signing Chris Burke…that’s a very good organizational move. He’ll get some big league time, but probably won’t hit enough to keep it…but, he’s local enough, and a big enough local hero in Louisville, that he could happily ride the I71 Express many times to and from Cincinnati.

    I know some guys who went to school with him…and, not that it really matters, but my kids have spent many hours practicing in the same facility that Burke did as a teen.

  9. Travis G.

    I agree with everything Steve said, especially this:

    “We’re essentially paid to lose, and only the Reds ownership can break that habit by deciding to spend money in order to make money.”

    This team desperately needs a jolt of excitement. Despite our grumbling, they really are the verge of something special, with bona fide stars-in-the-making – such as Votto, Bruce, Cueto and Bailey – and solid veterans, such as Arroyo, Harang, Rolen and Coredero. I mean, that’s a pretty solid core!

    But they need a jolt to interest the casual fans, who might otherwise attend a couple-three games a season. The only plausible free agent I see who might fit a need would be Johnny Damon. I realize it’s far-fetched, but just as fans don’t embrace teams until they’ve already been proven winners, they also embrace players who’ve already been proven stars. Rolen has been a very good player for many years, but I’m not sure he carries the same cachet that a former world champion Red Sox-Yankee does. A player like Damon would improve the team and put butts in the seats.

    This is a great market for a team that wants to make a splash without spending an arm and a leg. Good players are going to be had for less than they might have two years ago, and teams are willing to almost give away good, but expensive, players. Of course, the economy makes such an acquisition riskier from an income standpoint, but boosting the payroll for the right player could pay huge dividends here.

  10. Travis G.

    One last note: The Reds have to put a solid revenue-generating foundation in place to keep at least three of the Votto-Bruce-Bailey-Cueto-Volquez group. And they have to do that now, really, since attendance usually lags a year behind success.

    If they’re able to do that, they can sustain the success that’s been predicted for them just as the Phillies have sustained theirs.

  11. RiverCity Redleg

    Burke was a nice signing. Good for him and Louisville. And has the ability to be a solid bech/utility guy for Cincy. Who knows, maybe signing with his hometown team will rejuvenate him.

  12. BenL

    @Steve Price: You touch on a very important problem. The luxury tax is exactly what you say it is: paying low payroll teams to stay low payroll teams. The Reds effectively spend MORE money if they make a big signing than a higher payroll team who signs that player to the same exact contract, because the cost to the Reds is both that of the new contract AND the cost of the lost profit sharing money due to their increased payroll. If, for example, the Mets and the Reds are competing to sign the same player the Reds are at a disadvantage, because the effective cost of that player’s contract is higher to a small market team. If both teams correctly appraise the players market value, the Reds will not sign him. It’s not that the Reds are too cheap, it’s that they are faced with a decision between overpaying or letting the Mets sign the guy. This is why the luxury tax is a bad idea. (Sorry if this is a bit tangent to the conversation.)

    • Steve Price

      BenL: You touch on a very important problem. The luxury tax is exactly what you say it is: paying low payroll teams to stay low payroll teams. The Reds effectively spend MORE money if they make a big signing than a higher payroll team who signs that player to the same exact contract, because the cost to the Reds is both that of the new contract AND the cost of the lost profit sharing money due to their increased payroll.

      What’s missing from this angle is the increased profits a team makes from being a winner.

      The size of the “pie” doesn’t remain the same….in fact, the pie never remains the same. It either shrinks, from losing, or it grows, from winning. A winning team brings greater attendance, and more money. Losing offers less money for a team to spend.

      That is, spending money can make us better if we get the right players….Scott Rolen is a great example. He’s a very good player, but he’s not a great player. He’s a great final addition to a team to put them over the top by filling a need. However, he’s not a marquee player that takes a team to that proverbial top.

  13. Kevin Mitchell is Batman

    Um, can we offer Jonny Gomes a freakin’ contract already?

    If we don’t do that, I swear my head will explode. Senseless not to.

    • GRF

      Kevin Mitchell is Batman: Um, can we offer Jonny Gomes a freakin’ contract already?If we don’t do that, I swear my head will explode. Senseless not to.

      Amen, deadline is today and I have not heard anything. If they let him go for zero, then we have more issues than it already appears we do.

  14. Drew Nelson

    There is 0 teams in MLB that can claim poor. In fact many teams pocket millions and lead the fans to believe they are losing money. There is no reason why payrolls of all teams should be at least 80-85 million. Those team spending less then that are putting that money in their own pockets and it is starting to irk the teams that are spending the money for players.

  15. BenL

    @Steve Price: No, increased profits from winning are not missing from this argument. That’s exactly the point, in fact. Signing a player increases the number of wins a team gets each year, and increasing the win total increases revenue. The increase in revenue achieved by signing a player is that player’s value. But, if a given player will increase a teams revenue by $10 million, the Reds will only gain if they sign him for $9 million because they will lose $1 million in luxury tax money because they increase their payroll by signing him. The Mets can pay him $10 million because they don’t get much (any?) revenue sharing money. Thus he will sign with the Mets.

    An excellent explanation of this reasoning is given in the (very nice) book National Passtime. I think it’s a very compelling argument against the luxury tax.

  16. Chris

    I think the argument viz the luxury tax is spot on. The teams crying poverty are in fact, often pocketing money, particularly luxury tax money. As was pointed out previously, baseball teams can and do lose money on a season by season basis, BUT the ‘man behind the curtain’ they don’t talk about is the fact that teams never depreciate in value. You don’t buy a baseball team with the expectation that your operating expenses are a sort of personal cash cow from year to year, that’s not what that kind of investment is about– I forget the exact figure, but if I remember correctly, Steinbrenner bought the Yankees for something in the $10million range– let me repeat, $10million– I think conservative estimates would have the Yankees as worth something in the $1billion dollar range if sold today. What Steinbrenner knows is that even when the Yankees do lose money on a year-to-year basis (and they do periodically, or did), the Yankees are worth more and more every year in spite of that, and sometimes, it could be argued, because of that. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong on this, the Reds sold for $11mil (Schott) $67mil (Linder) and $270mil (Castellini), so whatever cries of poverty they make don’t really bear out all that well. Owners aren’t simply making money, they’re making it at a faster clip than they were in previous decades.

    If I was one of the owners paying the luxury tax, I’d be pissed off too, because it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do, and instead is just a way for the already super-rich to get even richer without doing anything, or worse, doing badly. Moreover, they moan about ‘skyrocketing’ player salaries– I don’t know about anyone else, but I have never gone to a baseball game to see the owner of the team, and couldn’t think of a reason I would, unless he or she had maybe an extra head that was evil and a claw hand or something. Almost to a man, these are the same people who give hundreds of thousands of dollars (cumulatively, millions) to candidates who fulminate about ‘welfare cheats’ and complain that their taxes are too high in a society that allows them to live in a sort of opulence most would consider absolutely obscene if they had any idea that anyone does live like that. The players at least have a very rare skill that they can only sell (if they’re lucky) for a very brief portion of their lives for much, and that itself is subject to the vagaries of injury, age and bad luck. The owners have money, the old pretext was that if one invest that wisely, in other words, do something vaguely resembling ‘work,’ and money will yield more money over time. Now even that pretense of doing anything actually productive seems to have gone right out the window. It’s as though I walked into a bar, put $20 on the bar, and expected that $20 to become $100 while I sit and drink.

    hmm, that gives me an idea, yes, it is time for the bar.

  17. brublejr

    Gomes was non-tendered, sad they cannot get enough $$$$ for Gomes but can bring back Hernandez and trade for Rolen.

    Hopefully Dickerson/Heisey/Fransisco/Balentien/Frazier will catch fire and take over the job and make us forget Johnny. Goodbye sombrero, it was nice to know you.

  18. CarolinaReds

    another previous 1st round draft flop…now with Gomes gone this team is sure to suck this coming year.

  19. Jason in Toronto

    I think dealing either Harang or Arroyo to get younger in that area is always a smart move. They have some young talented arms ready to jump in, and holes in the lineup. Why oh why did we trade for Scott Rolen? Love the guy, don’t like the albatross salary-wise in the lineup.