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Links and Game Thread

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I'm just full of links these days.

*  John Fay is still grinding the Ryan Freel as a starter axe:

But Freel has played so well - he's hitting .400 with two doubles, a triple and a stolen base in seven games - that he could challenge Jimenez for the starting job at second base by the end of spring.

I try not to go too hard on the Reds beat writers, but this story is utter fantasy and it's a little embarassing since Fay essentially seems to be making things up.  I guess the Ryan Freel man-love makes people do strange things.

*  John Sickels has a look back at Barry Larkin's career:

Reese, Appling, and Schoendienst are Hall-of-Famers. Trammell, Concepcion, Fernandez, Phillips, and Dahlen were all better than some guys in the Hall. Larkin should be a slam-dunk given his longevity and across-the-board contributions.

*  The Hardball Times has their Reds season preview up, and it's not pretty.  Apparently the Reds were the worst defensive team of all time in 2004.  Even with Juan Castro!  Shocking, I know.

*  Batter's Box has an awesome look at the '61 Reds up:

Everyone has, over time, forgotten the most interesting thing to happen in 1961. Which is that the Cincinnati Reds won the National League pennant.

Well, who cares, right? The Reds were annihilated 4-1 in the World Series, destroyed by a combined score of 28-12 (they'd been a 12-5 underdog in the betting). What was so interesting about the Reds?

Only that the Reds finished first exactly one year after going 67-87, finishing in sixth place and winding up 28 games behind the pennant-winning Pirates. And they turned it around enough that they went 93-61, beating a terrific Dodger team by four games. Hopefully, you all can see where this is heading. What did the Reds do to turn it around?

Definitely a must read.

*  The Reds are on FSN tonight, so consider this the thread for any game chatter.  It's Ramon Ortiz taking the hill against the Evil Empire.