As Mark Sheldon noted at Reds.com, the Cincinnati Reds still have much to sort out as Spring Training games begin today. The trades of Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon had already opened up a pair of spots in the Reds starting rotation, and with Homer Baily also likely to miss the start of the season, 3/5ths of it now appears to be up for grabs. The bench issues aren't yet solved, nor is the bullpen, meaning that a lot of evaluation and roster planning will play out over the next few weeks. Manager Bryan Price mentioned that it's often hard to place a whole pile of faith in the numbers produced in Goodyear (for numerous reasons), but sometimes a few noteworthy spring mashings end up being a sign of a player that's ready to break out. Todd Frazier, for instance, blasted 5 dingers en route to a 1.030 OPS in 2012, but it's hard to differentiate that kind of display from, say, 2011 spring bash brothers Dave Sappelt (1.546 OPS) and Jeremy Hermida (1.090).
Speaking of which, here's the Reds.com player stats page, which will officially have lots of numbers on it by tomorrow SINCE SPRING TRAINING GAMES BEGIN TODAY! We'll have a Game Thread up later, so stop back by and follow the action with us. BASEBALL!
Joey Votto won't be in the lineup today for the Reds' spring opener, unfortunately, but that's not something that should continue long enough to get your sugars up. C. Trent Rosecrans blogged this morning that Votto isn't hurt, he's just a bit "behind" the other players at this point, and I really have no idea what that means. Almost exactly three months ago, Trent's Enquirer colleague John Fay quoted Bryan Price as saying he expected Votto to have "zero limitations" once Spring Training commenced, so either something has fundamentally changed in that time, or there was always a plan in place to let Votto rest more over the winter than usual and just begin to ramp things up when he reached Goodyear. I'll put trust in it being the latter, and that the Reds are erring on the side of caution on this one, and hopefully Joe Dan's back in the heart of the Reds lineup soon enough to keep us from wondering.
Over at FanGraphs, Craig Edwards took a look at both the rise of early multi-year contracts given to young pitchers and those pitchers next in line to get them, and it's a pretty interesting glance at the risks/rewards both teams and those hurlers must weigh prior to signing on the dotted line. There's a pretty solid track record of teams getting financial leverage by signing their talented young arms - with both Chris Sale and Madison Bumgarner rightfully mentioned as the two most notable examples - and the Reds are currently riding that wave with the bargain Johnny Cueto has turned out to be on the back-end of his own 4 year early extension. Not included in the last group is Tony Cingrani, though he's exactly the kind of pitcher who fits said group's mold (i.e. just under 2 years of service time and just 25 years old), but it's likely the Reds would still want to see how his secondary pitches develop and if his shoulder can hold up before approaching him about signing long-term.
For FoxSports, Hall of Famer Hal profiled new bullpeener Burke Badenhop, and it should be a pretty entertaining read for each of you Ohio natives. If you're heading to Goodyear to catch a few games, maybe ask ol' Burke whether we've reached the time to pull money out of stocks and park them in bonds for a few years.
Finally, John Fay caught up with Mike Leake on a number of topics, not the least of which being that this may well be Leake's last Spring Training run-around with the Reds. It's both subtle and interesting, much like Leake himself has been through most of his 5 full seasons in Cincinnati. Also, since I realized I was reading Fay in whatever the Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum is (Gannett, you horrible, beautiful, horrible corporate bastard), a quick dive into a Wikipedia wormhole has now informed me that Mansfield, Ohio is both "The Fun Center of Ohio" and the "Carousel Capital of Ohio." Now I know.