Harry Pavlidis answers the five big questions hanging over the Reds as we enter the season
Check out the entire article, as I think it's a good a run-down as you'll find on these here interwebs outside of RR (natch). But in answering the biggest question (can they repeat?), Harry says, "While the quality of the defense could lower our opinion of the Reds pitching staff, the combined product is mostly intact, not overly aged and still backed by a potent offense. The Brewers have plenty of head space after 2010's pitching and defense, and they've made some of the requisite moves. Still, that's quite a gap to close even if both teams regress toward the pack. All things considered, it's not a stretch to label the Reds favorites, at the very least a strong contender for a return to the post-season."
Baseball Digest has a nice season preview up
They breakdown each position and don't really say anything new, but the bit about our fearless general Walt Jocketty caught my eye: "GM Walt Jocketty enters his fourth season, and last in his contract, with the Reds. Jocketty’s track record shows him to be patient at the trade deadline and never really "reaching" for something that is not there. With a club payroll of $76MM and no hefty, long-term contracts, the franchise is poised to be able to swing a deal if necessary. The team expects to be in contention and if they need an arm, a shortstop or a left fielder for the extra playoff push, then Jocketty should have no problem pulling the strings."
I didn't realize this is his contract year. I'm sure they will work something out to extend him, but the possibility that Uncle Walt decides to hang it up and spend time with his family is more-than-zero. I'm not worried about it, but it is something to keep in mind as the season progresses.
'Tis the season for season previews
Baseball Prospectus, that august publication, has their rundown of the NL Central. Subscription only.
Juan Francisco will get a shot at the outfield today
Dusty says the Reds need a left-handed bench bat, and END will have a better shot at filling that role if he can expand his defensive versatility. "In my mind, he can possibly be very important. You see the potential and know what's in there." You know, maybe it's that extra cup of coffee I had this morning, but I'm kinda excited for END right now. He certainly will never walk, and as has been repeated numerous times here, there has never been a successful player in Major League history that fits his BB/K profile. But it's possible that he could be just that special. I don't know. Hope springs eternal.
The Reds are well-represented on Carson Cistulli's "Team Joy Squad"
He created a team populated by the funnest-to-watch players in baseball and listed Juan Francisco, Edinson Volquez, and Aroldis Chapman among them. Francisco is admired for his devil-may-care-swing-at-everything-and-kill-it-into-the-riverness, Volquez for his Bugs Bunny changeup (one of the best in the biz at getting whiffs), and Chapman for...duh. You know, we really do have a fun team to watch. Aside from the guys who made the list, we have one of the best hitters in the game (Votto's opposite-field power is something for which we should build a statue), an acrobatic Gold-Glove 2B, a RF with a bazooka on his shoulder, a CF who runs like he's in a Serengeti documentary, and a LF who races four-wheelers around the warning track. I CANNOT WAIT another week!
The Red Sox are looking for a veteran starter or two to stash in AAA just in case
which seems puzzling, because they have a deeper rotation than even our Reds do. But Theo Epstein is no fool. He says "We’ve learned that we can never have enough starting pitching." I think this is a wise decision, and is an instructive one for the Reds. Some were opining earlier this off-season that the Reds should trade some of their pitching depth for a solid LF or SS. While that probably would not have been the worst decision ever, I think it underestimates the volatility and fickleness of pitching depth. The Red Sox run a smart operation, and we could do worse in imitating them.
Jomp to this week's Red Retweeter:
Solar eclipses take place when Marty Brennaman's hair is reflected in a mirror. #Reds #redsfact. Reds Facts are fun AND informative!
Good deed of the day: Guy next to me was searching for his glasses. I asked if I had seen them. Told him he had glasses on. Problem solved. John Fay's twitter is as existentially haunting and deeply beautiful as Garfield minus Garfield.
Twitter / Jamie Ramsey:
RT @Goggles17: Similar to the warning you get when Joey Votto is at bat. RT @Jamieblog Remain in building and away from windows. Vottornado? Joey Cyclones? This could be constructive fodder for a fresh nickname for the MVP.
A history of Cincinnati Reds bobbleheads. Follow this link to comprehensive history of bobblehead giveaways. The Marty and Joe bobblehead is a favorite of mine, as is the Adam Dunn '80s edition.
Gomes had 26 more runners on base for him than Votto, despite Votto having 77 more plate appearances. A lot of Gomes advantage was Votto tho. Joel is droppin' science like Galileo dropped the orange, proving once again that RBIs ain't everything.
RT @Reddy_Dean Come to JC Penney at Jeffersonville, Ind. and I'll hook you up with a nice sports coat!//Mean won't be red like @jamieblog's.
If Pedro Martinez had his '93 season in today's game, I wonder how many teams would leave him in the bullpen. I think this is endlessly interesting, if it isn't terribly instructive. Pedro's '93 season in the bullpen was electric, but when the Expos traded for him after the season they stuck him in the rotation. Paul Harvey knows the rest of the story. It was a different league back then, as Pedro was used as a long reliever/swingman type, more often than not throwing 2+ innings. Aroldis Chapman and Neftali Feliz are not going to be used that way, but if Pedro was 20 years younger and on today's Dodger team you have to wonder if his future would unfold differently. Of course, comparing Feliz or Chapman to a surefire Hall of Famer is careless at best, as the chances that either of them end up as half the pitcher Pedro was are slim. But it's interesting nonetheless.