Joey Votto: Helluva Guy
He's smart, he's centered, he's humble, he's driven, AND he's handsome. We have the best in the business here, folks. And that's not just the fanboy talking. It sometimes strikes me that his season last year was one of the very best seasons ever by a Red. No, really. It's funny, because I feel like I didn't appreciate that enough in the moment. It's difficult to see that level of greatness clearly up so close. You need a little distance to really bring it into sharp focus. But I don't want to do that this year. I think he's going to be huge again this year, and I want to be able to appreciate that appropriately.
The winter is over and baseball starts tomorrow. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.
Johnny Bench answered some questions during the unveiling of the new Reds Hall of Fame exhibit
Johnny Bench: A Celebration of Baseball's Greatest Catcher. Here's what he had to say about the latest incarnation of the Cincinnati Nine: "What's happened now is the Castellinis have given it a heart and soul. When you formulate a winning team you get the best players, the best people at each position. You get that mix. It's so exciting to feel that again. For me it's a great reward to see that baseball is coming back here in such a wonderful way."
Jared Burton has a sore shoulder
"I’m a little sore," Burton said. "I passed all the strength tests. I threw on back-to-back days and it may have been a little stiffer than usual. It’s nothing a little rest won’t fix. I’ll be able to crank it up in a few days." The problem is whether or not to put him on the DL to start the year. If he's ready to go in a few days it may not be worth it, but the last thing we want is another stupid scenario where the player is left on the roster but still doesn't play for two weeks.
Hardball Talk unveiled their predictions for the upcoming season
Three of the five predict the Brewers to win the Central, while only Aaron Gleeman knows the hell he's talking about.
The New York Post is much more favorable to the Reds (irony!)
A majority think the Reds will win the NL Central, and Mike Vaccaro even predicts them to win the World Series. In a related note Mike Vaccaro has been named the Red Reporter Honorary Favorite New York Post Reporter of the Year. Mike, if you are reading this, and we know you are, you can pick up your free coffee mug full of Hershey kisses at RRHQ.
As we ramp up for the Big Day, let's take a look at what the rest of the SBNation NL Central is talking about:
The Crawfish Boxes has the best and worst-case scenerios for the Astros this season
As a best-case scenario, they are not looking to win the World Series or even make the playoffs, but rather "...the best case scenario for the Astros is not to totally bomb out, or even make the playoffs. The best case scenario is to continue the development process with an eye towards the future while being competitive wouldn't hurt either." That's a really, really depressing best-case, huh? I can totally commiserate, though. The 2011 Astros are the 2003 Reds. As for the worst case, the rotation can fall apart, the offense can continue to fade, the defense can suck, and the bullpen can prove just how thin it is. Most importantly though, if the rumors of the team being sold come true, it could cause the kind of front office upheaval that can set back the fledgling rebuilding process.
Brew Call Ball is toasting an MGD to GM Doug Melvin for making a pair of savvy moves in the last week
They effectively swapped out Chris Dickerson and prospect Cutter Dykstra for Nyjer Morgan and Sergio Mitre. Jordan M says "Dealing Dickerson for Mitre, and then Dykstra for Morgan, is a set of moves that I feel like I would make in a video game-- they are small tricky little upgrades that help the team but that a GM like Doug Melvin rarely seems to make. He tends to stick with a guy instead of making a sneaky little group of moves like this. But I like this out of him. Who knows if this is exactly how he planned for this to work out, or if the Nationals were just desperate to get rid of Morgan, but as it turns out, the Brewers get a bit more starting pitching depth and a better backup outfielder."
DanUpBaby at VEB is saddened by the release of minor leaguer CJ Beatty
Apparently he is the Sam LeCure of the Cardinals' farm system, entertaining and delighting a small legion of tech-savvy baseball fans with his Twitter wit. It's strange, you know, on one hand, advanced stats can efficiently reduce the game to a series of equations and, allegedly, dehumanize the game. On the other, technology gives the fans the capability to speak directly to the players without the sportswriter filter, making them much more human to us. How strange it is to be anything at all...
Bucs Dugout is already looking ahead to the June draft
They have the first pick this year, and Anthony Rendon, a 3B from Rice, is a near-consensus top talent. One of their readers gives an amateur scouting report.
Bleed Cubbie Blue says good riddance to bad rubbish as Carlos Silva hits the road
Al thinks it would have been better if Silva had accepted an assignment to AAA Iowa to maintain some rotation depth, but not after the way Silva dealt with the news. Al thinks he's a whiner, but I'm not sure I would go that far. It must be difficult for a guy making $12 mil+ who just pitched a 2.1 WAR season to accept a demotion to AAA. He may be overpaid, but he's still a better-than-replacement-level pitcher. Thus ends the Milton Bradley Debacle in Chicago.
"The final lesson of the Milton Bradley signing and its aftermath, which gave us Silva (who at least contributed half a decent season), to GM Jim Hendry is this: don't do anything like this ever again, something that backs the team into a corner and costs many millions of dollars for no production. This was one of Hendry's biggest failures, and he has to know he can't do it again. Ever."