Ben Lindbergh took a look at Billy Hamilton over at Grantland. If the Reds and/or Hamilton had hoped to sneak into 2014 under the radar and without a spotlight, that's just simply not going to happen. Hamilton isn't a perfect ballplayer, nor does he project to be a perfect ballplayer, but he does project to be better at one thing than every other player who currently exists...and that's always going to be a story. Even if some of his performance stumbles out of the gate, Hamilton has a very, very marketable skill that will always be on display. He's got the kind of speed to make him the leg-portion of any Baseball Voltron created for years. It's akin to if Aroldis Chapman was penciled in to throw 105 mph fastballs at least once every single game. Grantland, it appears, has taken notice, too.
Remember when ESPN wrote that semi-crap article that made Chapman seem like one part Rick Ross and one part retired Grandpa? Well, Mark Sheldon detailed some of what Chapman's been through in the last year, and it paints a pretty different picture. There are several things that worry me about the 2014 Cincinnati Reds, but Aroldis making batters look completely stupid about two hundred times isn't one of them. Not at all, actually. In fact, there's a part of me that thinks this whole affair will piss him off enough to bring out a whole new level of dominance. Mike Bauman of mlb.com gives his own corroboration of Sheldon's story, too.
C. Trent Rosecrans spoke with Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers about a former player of his - current Reds SP David Holmberg. Holmberg, acquired in the the three team trade that saw Ryan Hanigan depart Cincinnati for Tampa Bay, gets some pretty high praise from Towers, and he even gets a David Wells reference. I truly hope Holmberg materializes the way that Towers and Jeff Pico project despite my druthers.
C. Trent also glanced at the early returns of Alfredo Simon's attempt at being a starter. Simon's got a history of being a starter thanks to his time in the Baltimore Orioles organization, but a quick glance at his pitching repertoireshows that he's a much, much different pitcher now than he was the last time he was asked to throw the first pitch of a game. He's reduced the number of four-seam fastballs significantly, he's added a cutter and a two-seam fastball, and he's nearly completely cut his change-up from his game plan. Yeah, his .236 BABIP last season isn't sustainable, but there is a lot to like about his transformation under the tutelage of Bryan Price. Hopefully, we won't have to watch the situation develop, but it's nice to know there's additional depth.
Here's an article that features a Reds manager talking about percentages and defensive shifts. WELCOME TO THE NEW AGE...TO THE NEW AGE...WELCOME TO THE NEW AGE.