Red Reposter - Johnny Cueto, Opening Day Starter

Once again, it's a contract year for Dusty Baker
He doesn't seem phased by it though, as he's been in this sitch a few times before. Although, he does kind of wonder why he has to continue to prove himself like this. Aaron Gleeman points out that Dusty has piloted teams to losing records in five of his past six seasons as a manager, so maybe that has something to do with it.

Overall, I'm not going to complain about Dusty's tenure so far. He may have had losing records in five of the last six years, but that one winning record is worth a hell of a lot to this Reds baseball fan. He's definitely changed my perception of him since he came to town, too. I had him pegged (and I figure most of you did, too) as the kind of manager that prefers old vets and ruins young arms. He's done well to erase those preconceived notions, though.

Check out all these pics of Spring Training
I like baseball.

Roy Oswalt - Not a Red
Walt Jocketty is putting this one to bed, folks. "I'm not even considering it", he said. Sigh. Wouldn't it be cool, though?

Johnny Cueto is expected to be your Opening Day starter this year
"It's how you want to match them up during the season," Baker said. "I know how important Opening Day is in Cincinnati. It's more important in Cincinnati than any place I've been. But you end up having to match up against No. 1's the rest of the year. If we're just going on veteran status, it'd be Bronson [Arroyo]. But I think Bronson would be better down in the rotation." The Opening Starter is certainly more a ceremonial position than anything significant, but there Dusty goes refuting that whole thing I just said about deference to veterans.

Seedlings to Stars profiles Yorman Rodriguez
and compares his season last year to a number of similar players of recent vintage. Yorman had a decent if unspectacular season last year in low-A as an 18-year-old, which is noteworthy for his young age. Jimmy Rollins, Miguel Cabrera, Justin Upton, and even Rafael Alvarez all had similar age-18 seasons in low-A. I think the most interesting comp listed is Richard Hidalgo:

"Hidalgo is actually a pretty decent comp for Rodriguez—he was a passable center fielder/athletic right fielder with plus power, solid speed, and just enough feel for the strike zone. It’s worth noting that Hidalgo struck out just 76 times in 111 games, so he didn’t have Rodriguez’s contact issues, but he also had little discipline—in fact, despite being ranked as a top 50 prospect by Baseball America four different years, he only had a .330 OBP in his minor league career. Hidalgo would go on to hit .269/.345/.490 in the big leagues over a nine-year career; if Rodriguez can do that, he’ll be a huge success."

MiLB.com interviewed Reds Minor League Hitter of the Year and top prospect Billy Hamiltion
When asked what it takes to steal a base, Billy Quicks quipped: "If you draw an imaginary line [in the dirt], you can get to that spot every time [you take a lead], so you don't have to think about getting back or not. You have to get to a point where you are thinking forward and not thinking backward, and then it's pretty easy stealing bases [because] you're not worried about getting back. If you make a false step and you're able to get back, you know you're good, so the only thing you think about is going forward." Also, running really, really fast.

Tom Verducci gives the Reds the best odds to turn it around this year
"It happened again last year for the sixth straight season and the 16th time in the 17 years since the last postseason expansion: a team made the postseason the year immediately after a losing record. Actually, two teams pulled off the losers-to-playoffs turnaround -- the Diamondbacks and Brewers -- making it 33 such turnaround stories in 17 years, or about one out of every four playoff teams. Which 2011 loser will wind up in the 2012 postseason? Rule out the Orioles, Athletics, Mariners, Mets, Pirates, Cubs and Astros for various reasons and you are left with nine possibilities. The most likely? In order: Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Rockies, Indians and Royals. The Royals? Now that is upheaval."

FanGraphs' Marc Hulet released his list of the top 15 Reds prospects
The only real surprises are that he ranks Ryan Wright and Sean Buckley at #11 and #12, respectively. Here's his snippet about Wright: "A hitting machine in college, Wright picked up right where he left off when he said goodbye to school to pursue his pro career. The second baseman hit more than .300 in 183 at-bats in Rookie ball. He also surprisingly popped eight home runs, although he was hitting in a good league for power numbers and wasn’t exactly young for the competition. Wright will definitely want to be a little less aggressive as he moves up the ladder, after walking just 4.9% of the time. An offensive-minded second baseman, he’s not a great fielder at second and he played multiple positions in college, leading some to project him as a utility player at the big league level."

Red Reposter NEWS FROM HELL
Dominique Strauss-Kahn used to be high roller in the game of French politics, serving until last year as the head of the IMF. He resigned his post after he was charged with raping a hotel maid in New York, but that charge was later dropped. He's not out of the woods though, as new allegations of prostitution have surfaced. He doesn't deny sleeping with the women, but rather defends himself by saying that he did not know they were prostitutes. Apparently, he attended sex parties where women were just walking around naked. "I challenge you to distinguish a naked prostitute from any other naked woman," his lawyer Henri Leclerc has told French television. Just...wow.

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