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Quick Hitter: Random Thoughts And Comments

Trade rumors are exactly that: rumors.

There is a lot of speculation about whom the Cincinnati Reds will trade before the 4 p.m. July 31 deadline.

Clouding the thinking on trades is owner Bob Castellini’s declaration that he is still trying to sign pitchers Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman.

Starting pitchers Mike Leake and Cueto are both free agents at the end of the season, so if they do not sign a new deal, they stand to be dealt.

The waiting line is long with the Astros, Angels, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Royals all asking about Cueto. The Royals and Yankees would also like to have Leake.

There is a lot of interest in the Cuban Missile Chapman, but he is under contract until 2016. However, he is eligible for arbitration at the end of the season and he will command a huge contract.

The Reds recently promoted No. 1 pitching prospect Robert Stephenson to Triple A Louisville which puts him one step from the major league roster.

The Reds have been listening to offers for outfielder Jay Bruce who was almost dealt to San Diego in the off-season.

Bruce had a bad 2014 due to a knee injury and was off to a slow start this season with a batting average that looked more like a price tag at The Dollar Tree. A recent hot streak — sound familiar with Bruce? — has seen his batting average soar to a respectable .251 which means the Reds may want to trade him while he’s hot.

Waiting in the wings could be Jesse Winkler, a left-handed hitting outfielder who is a lot like Bruce excepts he doesn’t strike out a lot and hits for a .300-plus average. At spring training camp he was put up against Chapman right away and Winkler was able to make solid contact.

Castellini may be thinking that the team is not doing well and the main attractions to bring fans to the stadium are Cueto and Chapman.

And, if the Reds can manage to keep both pitches, getting Devin Mesoraco and Zack Cozart healthy for next season could mean a contending team. Plus, the younger pitchers like Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias are getting some valuable experience.

Browns’ Defense

The Cleveland Browns’ defense was ranked No. 23 in the NFL last season and has made some changes and additions this season. It better work because the Browns have the highest-paid defense in the league at $82.1 million. The New York Jets are next at $80M and Tampa Bay is last at $34.3M.

Offensively, the Browns weigh in with a $64.25M payroll and that includes quarterback Josh McCown who is projected as the starter. This is the same McCown who has played for seven teams in 13 years and couldn’t cut it with Tampa Bay.

Yep, he’s the answer.

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Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.