John Fay revealed some roster clues straight from Bryan Price. It's becoming increasingly alarming to read about how unready the back of the bullpen projects to be on Opening Day, but that appears to be a trend we'll have to continue to deal with. Jonathan Broxton is improving, but not ready. Sean Marshall is stuck in his shoulder's version of purgatory, too. The Reds are fortunate to have decent bullpen depth to help offset these dilemmas somewhat, and I'm not necessarily alarmed by having some of Marshall's job fall to Manny Parra and Broxton's to Hoover, but it's a clear-as-day example of why it's rarely - if ever - a wise idea to tie huge dollars into multi-year contracts for relievers. Marshall made $4.5 million to throw 10 innings in 2013 and is scheduled to earn $5.5 million in 2014, while Broxton banked $4 million for 30 subpar 2013 innings and is set to make $7 million this year. Dang.
Next up on the Next-Step series: Zack Cozart. A.J. Cassavell took a look at the incumbent SS for the Reds, who appears to be citing a change of approach as the reason by his own optimism for 2014. I've never looked at Cozart and seen an offensive machine, but I've always seen glimpses of a player capable of solid, sustained play that, with a bit of luck, could be capable of a single-season breakout. A gap-to-gap approach and a sacrificial offering to the BABIP Gods could lead to the Zackuum hitting .275/.320/.415 for a season, or so, which would probably get Charlie Scrabbles' sugars up just a bit. Not for his career, but for one year. Maybe this one?
Here's some encouraging news for Reds fans: a list of former All Stars who are coming back in 2014 from injury plagued 2013 seasons. This is a pretty comprehensive list of who's who players who saw their 2013's fizzle out and their teams' hopes fade with them. Conspicuously absent from this list is Ryan Ludwick, a former All Star whose 2013 injury derailed what had been - on paper - as complete a lineup as the Reds had seen in years, but upon whose shoulders many, many 2014 hopes have been heaped. It's truly remarkable how much confidence this organization is placing on Ludwick's recently shorn shoulder, though it's not at all remarkable that Sports Illustrated would write an article of this ilk and overlook Cincinnati entirely.
Redleg Nation has been doing season previews for individual Reds, and their latest one projected Todd Frazier. Personally, I'm hoping the crater his BABIP saw in 2013 (from 2012) normalizes a bit, which should lead to a solid enough season for the Reds' 3B, and the .760 OPS they targeted seems both realistic and satisfactory. Here's to hoping that new baby Frazier is born soon and that Frazier proceeds to hit ball so hard for the duration of the upcoming season.
Justin may still be in his basement, but at least he's plugged his laptop back in and started writing about baseball again. Lucky for us, JinAZ took a closer inspection of Manny Parra to see if he could identify what changes had helped the former Brewer mature into a dominant reliever for the Reds in 2013. With Sean Marshall on the shelf for the near future, we can only hope that Parra's repertoire change and subsequent success can carry over into the upcoming campaign.