- Dayn Perry tends to do this on an annual basis, but he's made the Reds one of his preseason picks to surprise:
First, the Reds have the structural advantage of playing in what figures to be baseball's weakest division. Second, they have substantial talent. Adam Dunn has turned in four straight 40-homer seasons, Ken Griffey Jr. enjoyed a nice renaissance in 2007, Edwin Encarnacion has promise going forward, Jay Bruce is the preseason favorite to win NL Rookie of the Year, Brandon Phillips is coming off a 30-30 campaign, and Joey Votto figures to be an immediate contributor. In other words, the Reds should score plenty of runs.
As for the pitching, it's improved, especially in the bullpen. They finally have a shutdown closer in Francisco Cordero, and Bill Bray should be healthy. The rotation is where Cincy's fate will be decided. More specifically, youngsters Homer Bailey and Edinson Volquez must step up. Both have strong minor league dossiers and excellent stuff, but both have thus far failed to transition to the highest level.
If Bailey and Volquez are able to realize their potential, then the Reds will have something more than a puncher's chance in the Central. Both the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers are better teams on paper, but the Reds can make some noise. In fact, they're the team best positioned to pull off a big surprise in 2008.
Hopefully this'll be the year Cincinnati proves him right.
- We got a blog mention from Peter Gammons:
It's amazing how many club officials read USS Mariner (Seattle), Fire Brand of the American League (Boston), Ducksnorts (San Diego), Athletics Nation (Oakland), Viva El Birdos (St. Louis), Lone Star Ball (Texas), River Ave. Blues (Yankees), MetsBlog.com, FishStripes (Florida), Dodger Thoughts, Bronx Banter (great writing), The LoHud Yankees Blog, Reds Reporter (Cincinnati), Bleed Cubbie Blue, Brew Crew Ball (Milwaukee) and more.
Stuff like that is always cool to see.
- A site called Bleacher Report is running down the best eleven shortstops of all time, and while he makes some really odd choices (Bill Dahlen, George Davis, and Ernie Banks as givens?) Larkin does come in at number 11.
I think Bill James had Larkin at number five in his greatest list of shortstops, but it's possible I am remembering that wrong. And I think James' list was pre-A-Rod, Tejada, and Jeter, so it's possible Larkin would have fallen a bit, but I think Larkin should be a given as a top ten player.
I'm finding it interesting how many people think Larkin isn't going to get into the Hall of Fame, but I firmly believe the HoF will get this one right. Playing his entire career with the Reds will go a long way towards helping, as will the MVP award that Larkin won. I'm a firm believer that if Alan Trammell had finished first instead of second in the 1987 MVP award voting that he'd be a much more serious contender for the Hall. Silly, but that's just the way it seems to work, in my opinion.