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Off Day Special Report: A Perfect Storm in a Tea-pot

It's time for the Reds to stop playing baseball in a gray void.
It's time for the Reds to stop playing baseball in a gray void.

Since the very dawn of baseball history, the "It's only one game" camp has been in constant conflict with the "Araon Harang is terribel, Openign Day is runed, enjoy your 3-159 season dingus!!!1" folks. Judging by my straw man dumbening of the latter, it's probably clear which way I lean. As we all know, statistical anomalies happen in small samples - while the Opening Day microscope causes errors, oh-fers and mistake pitches to be magnified 6X and then optically zoomed in unflattering lighting conditions.

Still, I'm pretty cranky about following a team in danger of completing a decade of losing seasons. It remains to be seen whether yesterday's result will represent the season in miniature or a stutter step prior to the Big Leap Forward. Many encouraging box score events were lost in the noise of an 11 - 6 defeat, though yesterday's game also carried with it a sense of inevitability. I haven't yet tapped into my ESP, and after predicting an Albert Pujols johnson off Mike Lincoln yesterday, no change there.

More over-analysis after the jump.

First, here are a few  positives I see having potential to carry forward:

  • Joey Votto is still very good. Look for him to continue to be very good and maybe even be better, BABIP be damned.
  • Team offense may not be as bad as expected. The team had 11 hits, 5 off Carpenter. Five is not "a lot" in the cosmic sense, but for an offense expected to be anemic against one of the best pitchers league-wide, this is encouraging.
  • Scott Rolen could maybe hit 20 HR? It was GABP on a 6 HR day, but it's certainly possible a strong, healthy Rolen could see a resurgence. That could give the Reds three 20 HR threats in the infield.
  • Harang will not fall off a cliff. If he keeps that pitch down against Rasmus and gets through the sixth, everyone is suddenly talking a Quality Start and  a return to '07 form.
  • Drew Stubbs is poised to break out. This isn't based on his 2-for-2 performance alone. Everything I've seen from him since his late-season call-up last year, offensively and defensively, suggests he's capable of exceeding what his minor league numbers say he'll do in his first full season in the bigs.
  • The bullpen is good. Masset's performance notwithstanding, there's nothing to suggest there's anything behind the curtain with guys like DRH or Rhodes. If Ondrusek can stick and Burton, Bray or Maloney find a semi-permanent role, the 2010 'pen could easily improve on last year.

Some of the bad tea leaves:

  • Dusty is capable of making weird decisions, even on a scale devised for and named after him. Let me just say - I hate digging on Dusty Baker. It brings me no pleasure. I think he's a charming, affable, lovely man. But he has massive blind spots - including his insistent (though not totalizing) preference for veterans. I don't care that Laynce Nix got a hit yesterday. It needs to be all Stubbs, all the time. If you're going to play Nix, play him over Dickerson (but actually don't really do that). Lincoln, your mop-up guy, was used in a fairly high-leverage situation against the Greatest Bat-wielding Man-God of Our Times. And then Cairo, quite possibly the worst bat on the team, pinch hit at a critical point - righty vs. righty - after a whole, detailed, match-up based justification was laid down for Nix playing. Further proof of the Dusty Corrollary to Murphy's Law: "Whatever player can get mis-used, will get mis-used (especially if he's 52 years old and has good advice about what kind of bait to use)."
  • Masset may be due for some regression. Nobody expected the kind of year he had in '09 and this season might show us why. Still, absolutely no conclusions can be drawn from one game. He's gonna give up some bombs at GABP, just like most of the staff.
  • O-Cab could be this year's A-Gon. Again, I don't think I learned much from one game, though he had a pretty bad spring too. Select eyewitnesses suggested he's lost a step or two at short. Going oh-for-five and leaving runners on is hard to watch, but this team shouldn't have expected much of a bump in production at short this year in any possible universe. Fix your hopes on the outfield and young pitchers.

Your up-to-the-minute standing for the Central:

NL Central Standings

St. Louis 1 0 1.000 0 Won 1
Pittsburgh 1 0 1.000 0 Won 1
Houston 0 1 .000 1 Lost 1
Milwaukee 0 1 .000 1 Lost 1
Cincinnati 0 1 .000 1 Lost 1
Chicago 0 1 .000 1 Lost 1

(updated 4.6.2010 at 10:02 AM PDT)

Ok, negativity out. Enjoy the following triumvirate of media in order to get your mind right for Game Two:

Stevie Wonder - We Can Work It Out (via johnniewalker23)

Here is a very classic Fire Joe Morgan post:


Sweep to the Series - 1990 Cincinnati Reds Part 2 (via vicd)