With a handful of jacks and not a single ace
it's unclear who will take the mound for the Redlegs on Opening Day this year. Bronson Arroyo is open to the idea, or you know, whatever. "I’ll do whatever they want," he said. "We haven’t talked about it. But whatever direction they want to go is fine with me...I think being the Opening Day starter is overrated. With rainouts, you’re not always facing the other No. 1. The No. 5 starter probably matches up with the No. 1 seven or eighth times. I’m going to get my 33 starts no matter what."
You gotta think Arroyo is the early favorite for the ceremonial honor, being the elder statesman and all that. Also of note, Mario Soto told Dusty that Jose Arredondo, who has been in Arizona for some time already recovering from Tommy John surgery, is "throwing the ball great". Look for him to take on a big role in the 'pen this year. He has closer-type stuff, so he could be a big deal.
Dusty Baker hung his head, toed the dirt, and scratched the back of his neck
He was embarrassed by the riches of starting pitching the Reds brought to camp this year. Bronson Arroyo, Edinson Volquez, and Johnny Cueto are already inked in at the top, with Homer Bailey, Travis Wood, and Mike Leake the most likely candidates to take the final two spots. Matt Maloney and Sam LeCure will also be given an opportunity to shoulder their way in, much like Leake did last year. "There's always a surprise like Leake in there somewhere," Baker said. "Last year, Leake wasn't on the radar. You want to leave some space for the surprise guy...They've been knocking on the door here. If it was an organization with lesser pitching, they'd probably be in the door."
Baseball Prospectus has a few suggestions for Dusty on how to make a good thing better
David Laurila, who has an interview with Mike Leake in the upcoming Maple Street Press Reds Annual (have you ordered your 12 copies yet?), says Drew Stubbs and Ryan Hanigan should bat 1-2, Fred Lewis should see more time in LF, and Edgar Renteria should see more time as the bullpen catcher. I've been on the Hanigan train for a few years now, and I really think his superior on-base skills and excellent contact rate would play well in the 2-hole. Unfortunately, I think it will take an epic failure on the part of just about everyone else for him to get that shot.
Justin Lehr, organizational soldier
Lehr is working his way back from Tommy John, but was invited to big league camp anyway. "After being at this for nine months, it was a big deal [to be invited]," Lehr said. "I was like, 'Yes!' I'll be way ahead as camp starts, but I will fall behind because I have to do everything more. Obviously, it's nice to be invited when you know you won't be competing for a job."
I think that's a nice good will gesture from the club. Lehr is the kind of guy who will never make to big in this league, but he's the kind of player that's nice to have around as an emergency plan K or L. He did teach Homer the splitter, so we owe it to him for that, right?
The Reds have extended their partnership with PNC Bank
This business stuff is usually boring, but if you are a PNC customer, you are invited to "Beat the Box Office" and purchase single game tickets on Feb 22, the day before sales are open to the public. So that's kinda neat.
The Mariners have announced that Ken Griffey Jr will be with the team as a special consultant
Rumor is he'll be given the chance to do some television work in the booth. One has to think that his charisma will play, well, naturally, in the booth.
Rickie Weeks signed an extension with the Brewers worth $38.5 mil over four years
It's really interesting to see how the 2B market has developed over this off-season. Orlando Hudson, Dan Uggla, and now Weeks have all signed multi-year deals. Brandon Phillips and his agent should have plenty of reference points to frame up a deal once this one runs out, if they so choose. The Reds have a $12 mil option decision to make next season.
Barry Larkin left MLB Network for ESPN
A jump from premium to basic cable may not be a big one, but it's a jump all the same. It's not clear yet whether he will work in the booth or on Baseball Tonight or both, but whatever he does, he will most likely do it handsomely.
The nerds over at BtB are doing their thang again
Swinging strikes are good for pitchers (obviously), but not bad at all for hitters (not so obvious). This is something I've believed for a while, but never saw it so graphically explained (graphically like with graphs, not graphically like with descriptive sexual language).
Scott McKinney at Royals Review has amassed a most impressive study on prospect success/failure rates
His study covers the years from 1990 to 2003, and you don't need me or this study to tell you that the Reds fared quite miserably in that stretch. Still, this is a good read.