Aaron Harang: the author has always thought that Harang has a bit of an Andre the Giant quality to him. His immense size, his enlarged hands and feet, his mastery of the bear hug, tends to alienate people. Last year, ranking second in wins with 16, and leading the National League in strikeouts (216), shutouts (2), and complete games (6), he was rewarded with exactly zero votes for Cy Young. Someone needs a chokehold. But what the voters appeared to forget was that Andre the Giant didn’t become bad (a heel, if you will) until Wrestle Mania III. Before that he represented the forces of good. And didn’t you ever see Princess Bride? Just because his head is the size of a Volkswagon and he could crush your bones and drink your blood if he wanted to, doesn’t mean he will. He doesn’t dream about conquering the world with an army of enormous super men or wrestling a bear in a steel cage, he is a simple family giant. It’s not like he knows where all the voters live or envisions crushing their skulls with his bare hands. At the end of the day he just wants, if he’s deserving, a vote for Cy Young…and for everyone to complement my ponytail. It’s not too much to ask.
Bronson Arroyo: the author has heard Reds fans voice some hesitance in placing a major part of their seasonal hopes upon Arroyo, a guy who, I guess, hasn’t technically won more than 14 games or even pitched all that consistently prior to last year. And while the author may agree that just because you know how to play the guitar doesn’t mean that you should do so in front of an audience, he is convinced that Arroyo is wicked sweet. Last season Arroyo set career highs in starts (35), innings pitched (240), complete games (3), strikeouts (184) and musical performances with Rich Aurilia’s wife. And this season, while you can expect a very similar pitching performance, expect some change to his appearance. Perhaps some mutton chops or a fanny pack, but hopefully not a ponytail, I’ve got individuality to maintain.
Kyle Lohse: it was when Lohse was acquired last season that the author began to wonder whether the Reds really needed every ex-member of the Twins on the ballclub. Turns out the answer is yes and people from Minnesota are very supportive of long hair on men. So, this year don’t be surprised to see Carlos Silva or Lew Ford coming over to provide some support for the stretch run. Maybe they could create some sort of Frankenstein monster out of the working parts of Brad Radke. He’d be good for 150 innings and the coaching staff could control him with the power of fire.
Eric Milton: it was hard to remain supportive of the Reds big ’05 acquisition when Uncle Milty was busy being the worst pitcher in the National League. But last year, with the exception of some persistent injury problems and depending upon your opinion of an era over 5.00, it’s at least arguable that he was effective. He strung together some good outings, his hits allowed per inning dropped to closer to 1 an inning which compared to ‘05 (1.27 hits per) is a significant improvement. He continued to support league moral by giving up plenty of gopher balls (29 in 152.2 innings) and feels he has the self esteem to where he no longer needs to impress people with strike outs (90 total for ‘06). This year he’s getting a paltry $9 million, so we’ll have to see if he can maintain his focus. But the biggest question coming into the season is what will he think of my ponytail?
Matt Belisle: in 2003, Cincinnati was able to convince the fiercely loyal Kent Mercker to put his personal hatred for Atlanta aside (*the author does not know if Mercker actually hates Atlanta but after spending 7 years of his career there, it is assumed) and wear the uniform with the tomahawk on it for a couple of months so that the Reds could gain access to the former first-rounder Belisle. After battling a bad back (undoubtedly sustained after a tire iron-related injury prompted him to lift his car over his head and throw it into an adjacent ravine), B-Lizzle paid his dues in the bullpen before marking his territory for the number five starter with two quality late season starts. A solid spring and a sincere complement about my long hair, cemented his position in the rotation.