Answer to Blue Jays woes lies in Cincinnati

By: Bob Elliott

CINCINNATI _ There has been plenty of talk about the Cincinnati Reds moving this or that player.

And nothing has happened.

The home run derby takes place Monday at the Great American Ball Park.

On Tuesday it’s the 86th all-star game to decide home field advantage for this fall’s World Series. 

And Wednesday with the Greater Cincinnati Airport jammed with departing ball fans, the switchboard at the new yard on the banks of the Ohio will light up as if the Reds were giving away:

A) Free season’s tickets for life.


B) Tickets on the 50-yard line to the Ohio State Buckeyes home games.


C) The chance to watch a Reds game with Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez, with Pete Rose dropping by for desert.


D) All of the above.


And the correct answer, the reason for the phone calls, is none of the above.

However, the Reds are not expected to put to soon-to-be free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto on the trade mart and ditto for closer Aroldis Chapman.

General manager Walt Jocketty’s phone will be ringing.

The Blue Jays have called already inquiring about their availability of both Cueto and Chapman.

And will be in line to call again. 

Remember Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos finished in the runner-up spot during free-agent bidding for Chapman.   

The bigger need is in the rotation and that’s Cueto, with a 6-5 record and a 2.61 ERA in 16 starts striking out 111 in 113 2/3 innings.

Cueto, 29, is a free agent at the end of the season, so he might not be here next year.

Unless the Jays turn around their season -- five games over .500 on June 19 and now one game below at the break, 4 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees -- Anthopoulos won’t be either.   

Chapman, 27, is 3-3 with a 1.69 ERA in 38 games fanning 65 in 37 1/3 innings -- not a misprint -- saving 18 of 19 chances (95%) this season. He’s under contract for 2016. 

There are other starters on the market the Chicago White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija, Oakland A’s lefty Scott Kazmir and Miami Marlins’ right-hander Mat Latos. 

The answers to both the Jays woes -- a starter and a reliever -- lies in Cincinnati. 

The cost will be high, but remember how the Jays began the season with six blue-chip rookies opening day at Yankee Stadium?

Only second baseman Devon Travis and reliever Roberto Osuna remain. Aaron Sanchez is on the disabled list, while Daniel Norris, Dalton Pompey and Miguel Castro have been demoted. 

On Wednesday when the all-star show leaves town there will be 17 days remaining until the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. 


Labourt shines: While the World was thumped by the USA, lefty Jairo Labourt had an inning to remember.

The Toronto Blue Jays only selection to the 17th annual SiriusXM Futures Game worked a 1-2-3 fifth inning.

Labourt, 21, struck out the first hitter he faced, J.P. Crawford, 22, a first-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2013.

Next came a grounder up the middle by catcher Kyle Schwarber, a first-round choice of the Chicago Cubs in 2013, as shortstop Raul Mondesi. Mondesi, who does not have his father’s build, ranged to the second base side and fired a strike to first. Schwarber, 22, hit .364 (8-for-22) in the majors this year.

And then, Labourt struck out third baseman Richie Shaffer, a first round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012.

A tidy 11-pitch inning in which he threw nine strikes as the World fell 10-1 before 43,661 fans. Schwarber, who tripled and knocked in two runs earned MVP honors. 

Asked how his season was going before the game, Labourt told Hall of Fame translator Tony Perez “good, but not real good.”

Labourt is 2-7 with a 4.71 ERA in 16 starts, walking 42 and fanning 56 in 72 2/3 innings.

Both Andre Dawson and Perez represented the Miami Marlins at the June draft when Josh Naylor was selected 12th over-all in North America. 

What did you like about Naylor?

“I didn’t pick him, the scouting department in Miami gave us his name,” said Perez. “I have heard lots of good things about him as a hitter.”

Perez was asked if both he and Dawson would have to contribute to the pot towards Naylor’s $2.25 million US signing bonus?

“No, no, no,” said Perez with a laugh.