When will the Reds’ fire sale begin?

It’s when, not if. The Cincinnati fire sale is about to begin. CBS Sports Jon Heyman reported over the weekend that Mike Leake was told by the Reds he will be dealt before the July 31 trade deadline. The right-handed starter, who is 7-5 with a 3.95 ERA, is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, fellow impending free agent Johnny Cueto turned in his second consecutive sub-par start on Sunday. After lasting just five innings at Miami in his final start before the All-Star break, Cueto went a season-low four innings and walked a season-high six batters against Cleveland on Sunday. Cueto walked in two runs.

Afterward, Cueto insisted there is nothing wrong with his elbow and said he was affected by a 40-minute rain delay. Since pitching a complete game two-hit shutout against NL East leader Washington on July 7, Cueto has allowed 11 hits and five earned runs over nine innings. He has walked seven and struck out four.

The mini-slump should do little to effect Cueto’s status as one of the better starting pitchers expected to be available before the trade deadline. Like Leake, Cueto is a free agent at season’s end. Only Cueto will command a bigger payday, one the struggling Reds (40-49) can’t afford.

Toronto, Houston and the Los Angeles Dodgers are believed to be Cueto’s most serious suitors. C. Trent Rosencrans reported that GABP was full of Major League scouts on Sunday. Meanwhile, Paul Daugherty writes that the Reds may follow the Atlanta Braves lead when it comes to rebuilding.

Related link: Cincinnati Reds 2015 results, starting pitchers, homers in Google Docs

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Report: Dan Le Batard favorite to replace Colin Cowherd

To follow up on an earlier post on Colin Cowherd, Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated reports that Dan Le Batard is the front-runner to take over the mid/late-morning radio time slot once Cowherd makes the official move to Fox Sports.

As for Cowherd’s replacement, multiple sources told SI.com that The Dan Le Batard Show, which currently airs on ESPN Radio from 4-7 p.m. ET, is the frontrunner to take over Cowherd’s morning 10-1 p.m. spot. That would cause an opening in Le Batard’s current spot, with multiple in-house candidates being kicked around including Bomani Jones, who currently hosts an ESPN Radio show from 9-11 p.m.

The choice of Le Batard makes a lot of sense internally for a number of reasons. First, ESPN president John Skipper is personally fond of Le Batard and has said so in interviews with this column. Second, Le Batard is key talent figure in Rydholm Projects group, the company led by producer Erik Rydholm that produces Highly Questionable, Around The Horn and Pardon The Interruption in partnership with ESPN. Rydholm’s shows build on each other to funnel into what ESPN management considers its most important property in SportsCenter and whether he wants to admit it or not, Rydholm is the most powerful producer at ESPN. If you regularly appear on Rydholm shows, you can feel comfortable buying, as opposed to renting, that two bedroom loft in Brooklyn or Miami.

Deitsch reports that Cowherd could get a contract worth up to $6 million annually from Fox. He may do a syndicated sports talk show plus various Fox Sports television appearances.

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BBL: Kentucky football news dominates weekend

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Big Blue Links for Sunday:

In her Sunday UK football notebook, Jennifer Smith writes about Kentucky’s brainy team brimming with hidden talents. “While some players in Hoover were peppered with questions about their 40-yard dash times (although Jordan Swindle did get some questions like that, too) UK’s lineman likely was the only one asked about a Rubik’s cube time.”

Four-star offensive lineman Tate Leavitt committed to UK on Saturday, reports Ben Roberts of Next Cats. A junior college prospect, Leavitt was the Cats’ No. 1 remaining target. He’s expected to contend for the 2016 starting left tackle spot and will have two years of eligibility remaining. Ben also has a list of offensive line commits under Stoops.

Ex-UK linebacker Wesley Woodyard taught lessons during his camp at Bryan Station, reports Joshua Huff of the Herald-Leader. “We want to help change these kids’ lives in a positive way,” he said as the kids, aged 8-14, milled about, scarfing down pizza and joking with the camp’s coaches. “We focus heavily on no bullying, and most importantly, getting your schoolwork done.”

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Some Friday night UK sports notes

A few UK sports notes on a Friday night:

  • Ex-Minnesota linebacker De’Niro Lester is transferring to Kentucky, reports Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader. Lester is another member of the Ohio connection. He is from Cleveland Heights and was a high school teammate of current UK receiver Dorian Baker. Lester played two years at Minnesota.
  • UK pitchers Kyle Cody and Dustin Beggs are returning to school. Cody was a second-round pick of the Minnesota Twins. He was taken No. 73 overall. Beggs was a 32nd-round pick of the New York Mets. That’s good news for Gary Henderson’s 2016 pitching staff.
  • After shooting a 73 on Thursday, former UK golfer J.B. Holmes was 2-over par for the day and 3-over for the tournament through 16 holes before darkness stopped play on Friday. The cut line is expected to be either even par or 1-over.
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“Defensive genius” Bill Arnsparger dies at age 88

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UPDATE: Bill Arnsparger’s obituary and arrangements

Bill Arnsparger, the Paris native who was known as one of the greatest defensive minds in all of football, passed away Friday morning at the age of 88, the family confirmed.

“Renowned, long time football coach, Bill Arnsparger, passed away peacefully in his home in Athens, Alabama this morning, July 17th, 2015. He was eighty-eight.

Arnsparger was best known as a defensive coordinator in the NFL. He was the mastermind behind the No Name Defense that helped lead the Miami Dolphins to a Super Bowl and undefeated season in 1972. Ten years later, he designed the successful Killer Bees defense.

Throughout his career, he coached in six Super Bowl Games, two NFL Championship Games, and two Sugar Bowl games. His career spanned many decades. His first year coaching was in 1949 with Woody Hayes at Miami University in Ohio. His last season of coaching was with Marty Schottenheimer in 2002 for the San Diego Chargers. Arnsparger spent nearly fifty years in professional and collegiate coaching as well as athletic administration.

He coached for the following teams: Miami University, Ohio; Ohio State University; University of Kentucky; Tulane University; Baltimore Colts; Miami Dolphins; New York Giants; Louisiana State University; San Diego Chargers; Cornell University; Washington Redskins. He was also athletic director for the University of Florida. Arnsparger also served in the Marine Corps in World War II.

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BBL: Football season drawing closer and closer

Big Blue Links for Friday:

Mark Stoops made his initial reputation coaching defensive backs, especially at Miami, before becoming a defensive coordinator under his brother Mark at Arizona. Since becoming the head coach at Kentucky, Stoops has tried to improve the Cats secondary and feels like this year’s edition will be his best so far.

Kentucky football will be without one of its signees. Javon Provitt, a defensive lineman from Warren, Ohio, will instead enroll at junior college. Provitt said he had a low test score, but plans on staying just a year and a half at JC before continuing on to Lexington. Good defensive lineman are hard to find.

Ex-Minnesota linebacker De’Niro Laster was on UK’s campus for a visit. Laster is transferring from the Big 10 school and Kentucky is high on his list of possible destinations. Laster is from Cleveland Heights, Ohio where he was high school teammates with UK wide receiver Dorian Baker.

Out west, the Sacramento Kings say they have no plans to change Willie Cauley-Stein’s game. The former Kentucky center knows he has to be more productive offensively, but Cauley-Stein is the rim-protector the Kings covet. Sacramento’s coaches have praised Cauley-Stein’s effort in the Summer League games.

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SEC: Quarterbacks past, present and future

SEC links for Friday:

Even though SEC Football media Days wrapped up on Thursday, one of the bigger stories involved recruiting and a four-star quarterback who snubbed both Alabama and Auburn. Jawon Pass, from Columbus, Georgia, chose Bobby Petrino and Louisville over both the Tide and the War Eagles. Pass said that he didn’t feel like Auburn would prepare him for the NFL. “(Auburn’s offense) fit me better, but I felt like Auburn wasn’t going to prepare me for the next level,” Pass said.

In current quarterback news, Georgia’s Mark Richt said it will take awhile for the Bulldogs to name a starting quarterback. After Aaron Murray in 2013 and Hutson Mason in 2014, UGA will be lead by its third different quarterback in three years. Of course, the starter will spend much of his time turning around and handing the ball off to Nick Chubb. And despite not having a quarterback yet, Richt is confident that Georgia can win the SEC title.

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How accurately has media predicted SEC football finishes?

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With the SEC Football Media Days wrapping up Thursday in Hoover, Alabama, the media went about the annual task of making its predictions for the upcoming conference season.

Georgia was picked to win the East. (Kentucky was picked to finish sixth.) Alabama was picked to win the West. In a bit of a twist, Auburn got the most votes when it came time to pick the SEC champion.

So given the occasion, I decided to look back and see how the media has done in the prediction business over the past five years. Not too well, as it turns out.

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Colin Cowherd leaving ESPN

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ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd has been hinting around for awhile, saying that he was moving/had moved to Los Angeles, etc. Finally Thursday the news dropped that Cowherd is leaving the network.

ESPN announced that Cowherd, who has been with ESPN since 2003, will leave when his contract expires later this year.

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BBL: Kentucky football upbeat about 2015

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Big Blue Links for Wednesday:

Mark Stoops happy with progress, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader from SEC Media Days. “We’ve worked extremely hard to make Kentucky relevant in the SEC East,” Stoops told a large media contingent at The Wynfrey Hotel. “As we move into this third year, we really feel like we put ourselves in a position to do just that.”

Six wins the minimum bar for UK football, reports Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal. After a 2-10 mark in Mark Stoops’ first season and a 5-7 improvement in his second, the Cats have their sites set on being bowl eligible in 2015.

Kentucky and North Carolina both after DeMatha guard, reports Brandon Parker of the Washington Post. “This time last year, Markelle Fultz was just a buzz. Rumor had it the DeMathaguard possessed plenty of talent and an intriguing, athletic frame, but with no varsity experience under his belt, it was anybody’s guess as to if whether the quiet teenager was more substance than hype. Now, after taking the D.C. area and AAU scene by storm to earn first-team All-Met, Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Player of the Year and five-star recruit status, it’s become more of a question of what school hasn’t offered Fultz.”

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