Wednesday, March 26, 2008

PREVIEWS: Outfield

As I did in 2007, to preview this year’s club, I’ve broken the team down positionally into categories of how they can best benefit me. I believe this is the best and most relevant way to preview any team.

Which Reds outfielder would like to help me pick out some casual slacks?

Ken Griffey, Jr.: last year, even though he did find time to contract pleurisy and miss a few games with a bad tract, he stuck it out for 144 and swung the bat pretty well as the new everyday right fielder (.277/.372/.496, 30 HR, 93 RBI, 85 BB/99K). He’s only 7 bombs away from 600 which would be a pretty significant accomplishment as he would become the first lactose intolerant player with diverticulitis to reach the milestone (Willie Mays did suffer from peanut and pet dander allergies). And as anyone who has suffered a torn coin purse knows [“Would you say the pain in the onions was like getting zotted with the cattle prod or getting conked with a ball peen hammer?”] ample room in the compartment is a necessary aspect for casual slacks. Should he be able to find time in his schedule, he’s my first choice to watch me model slacks.

Ryan Freel: as we all know, Freel only wears clothing from the animals he’s able to catch and kill. He’s doing it partly to reduce his personal impact upon the environment and partly because he’s just good with a knife. There’s been some talk this spring of selling Freel and Farney to a team more in need of traumatic brain injuries. Last year wasn’t his best season statistically (.246/.308/.347, 15/23 SB, 3 HR, 16 RBI) but he did miss 81 games and was able to kill that family of rabbits that took up residence under the visitor’s clubhouse. The Reds Rocket has always been impressed with his style of play and versatility and would prefer to see his fate decided via donnybrook with fellow utility player Jerry Hairston, Jr. Dusty’s reportedly a “player’s manager” and we’ll get an early chance to see if that’s accurate.

Adam Dunn: Last season Grande Burro became the first player in franchise history to hit 40 homers in 4 consecutive seasons. He also drew over 100 walks (101), scored 100 runs (101), and drove in 100 (106). All this in the fewest games played since 2004. He even increased his batting average (.264) and his strikeouts were only fourth worst in the league. Unfortunately, he’s more of a denim for all seasons and occasions type of guy. In fact, later this season he’s introducing the new Dunnim line of denim socks, boxer shorts, and bras. The slogan for the new line is: “Let Adam Dunn cup your balls.” He’s not afraid to say, why should you be afraid to wear it?

Jay Bruce: not hard to be excited about the (more or less) unanimous top prospect in baseball. Last season over three levels (67 at high A Sarasota, 16 in Chattanooga, and the final 50 at Louisville) Bruce ranked among all minor league leaders in extra-base hits (80, 2nd), total bases (306, 2nd), doubles (T7th), hits (166, 10th) and slugging percentage (.587, 14th). Seems like the real deal but that’s also why the Reds brought in Corey Patterson to Spring Training. “Hey kid, at one point people were pretty sure I was going to be good at baseball. Can’t miss prospect. But look at me now, I’m washed up. I couldn’t even play in Baltimore and that team is horribly bad. You know what my teammates called me behind my back? Loose Stool. Can you believe that? They said it’s because I am worse than regular shit. You don’t want that kid. You don’t want that at all.” Jay, listen to the man. A healthy Larry Walker with more power is the ceiling, Corey Patterson is the floor. You simply don’t wish the latter upon anyone. Now when are we going Dillard’s to look at some slacks?

*Update: the appeal of Corey Patterson proved to be too strong for Dusty to resist. Bruce will be opening the season in Louisville but once he becomes the efficient out-producing machine Baker’s looking for, he’ll be back up with the big club.

Norris Hopper: in a recent spring training interview Hopper was asked to discuss his bunting style and technique but declined. He implied that he’s got some bunting secrets hidden away under his hat. That or Patterson was hanging around, rumor has it that he led the AL in bunt base hits last season. Apparently, there’s more to it than using a wooden stick to deaden a thrown ball at approximately an 80-degree angle towards first base, then running like hell. My ignorance is showing. No reason to question a rookie season with numbers like these: 14/20 SB, .329/.371/ .388, 14 2B, 51 R, 14 RBI. Included in that batting average is 17 bunt singles and another 20 infield hits. Like all players that rely on their speed, Hopper knows the importance of a versatile pair of pants. Can you say with confidence that I can run a 4.4- 40-yard dash in these chinos?

Corey Patterson: unlike most players, Corey Patterson doesn’t care about what you, the fan, think of him. Many years of playing professional baseball at such a high level has given him a particular insight. Corey is very wise. He knows that you think he was just brought into camp because he and Dusty used to go water skiing together over long weekends when their wives were out of town. He knows you think he’s an awful, just flat awful, baseball player whose “skill set” was well-represented in camp before his arrival. He knows that you are plotting his death, should he make the opening day roster, as you type another hilarious blog entry. But that’s not going to change anything. From his page: “Corey oozes with so much talent that he makes the game look easy. He doesn’t like to slide back into first on pickoff attempts because they are an insult to him. He never fully extends on his dives in the outfield because he simply does not have to.” If Corey only wants to get on base 29.8% of the time, then Corey is only going to get on base 29.8% of the time. When you get your name in the record books (168 strikeouts in 2004, 20th all time) then you can talk to Corey about getting on base, or finding pants for that matter. Corey doesn’t have time for this.

1 comment:

Captain Ron said...

What's the topic for the outfielders? From the picture am I to assume it is, "which outfielder you'd most like to have fiddling your sack?"