Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Reds Have Had Enough Cacti, Ready to Dominate Central

The Reds, or more accurately the staff of non-athletes, packed up the mid-level tequila from the day trip down to the non-beheading part of Mexico and the rest of the locker contents, loaded it onto a big, red truck shaped like Dusty Baker's head and traveled north east to meet up with the Brewers tomorrow. Spring welcomed new friends like Edgar Rentaria and saw the exile of others like the D-Train and Jeremy Hermida. The D-Train's banishment was due mainly to an inability to get anyone out over his last several outings. Hermida has an option to take his show on the road but I'm pretty sure he'll want to stick around Louisville for a while. Really no surprises out of camp, at least from my perspective.

Razor Ramon Hernandez and Hanigan open the year with the catching detail. Hanigan is now making over $1 million per season. Pretty sweet for a back-up, no power kneeler. His ability to get on base, make legitimately good contact and play solid defense makes this a solid investment. Ramon will undoubtedly spend his final season in Cincinnati living up to the heightened expectations from last year. Mesoraco had a nice camp and will get a chance should someone get hurt or next year. As long as he doesn't go on a year-long milkshake diet, like his first 3 years in the organization, things should work out quite well.

With the exception of Rentaria, this is the same squad we saw roll into Cincinnati last season. With big time off-season acquisition Fred Lewis hitting the DL, Francisco gets to hang around for a while and, apparently, back up the outfielders in addition to playing some 3rd when Rolen's arthritis is acting up. Janish Yanish gets the "starting" shortstop position with the understanding that he may not actually be the starting shortstop. Rentaria was brought in so that Rolen wouldn't feel quite so old and to take a fair amount of time from Janish. Phillips and Votto both had nice springs, though Phillips waited all spring to hit a bomb on the second to last day, and, assuming an absence of injury and mental breakdown, will key both the defense and offense, respectively. It should be noted that Phillips is in his contract year, so he has many purple Audis to play for. Speaking of middle age, I almost forgot Miguel Cairo who was re-upped this offseason for two more years of playing mulitple positions. Maybe Rolen's not so old after all.

Same gang as last year: Stubbs, Bruce and Gomes will be getting the majority of the starts. Gomes had a tough spring, though of his 10 hits, 9 were for extra bases. That's a nice percentage. And, for those of you who have not seen his haircut in person, you're in for a treat. It looks slightly worse than what you would expect your neighborhood bike-riding methhead to be wearing. I know, you ride that bike for exercise. Stubbs, based on the fact that he's the team's center fielder is likely the opening day lead-off hitter even though he struggled in that role for the majority of last season and again this spring. Just 24 strike outs in 58 at bats? Not too bad. Bruce has his pile of money, hopefully he still has some motivation to try. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't. $50 million is an end goal, not the means to an ends. Heisey had a nice spring (.346/.404/.731) and will get to back up all three positions. I will be very surprised if Francisco actually gets any time out there but he may. Fred Lewis will be back in a while and should be able to offer some assistance both afield and pinch hitting.

 Starting pitching
Again, very familiar faces here, even with the current injury status of Cueto and Bailey. Volquez and his fashion weave start things off. He got a late start because his agent didn't ensure that he was legally permitted to work in the country and has had some typical outings this pre-season where he has no idea where the ball is heading. That's to be expected. He got a little money this off-season but there are some dolla-dollas on the table if he can get people out on a regular basis. As stated, Cueto has a barking forearm and Bailey, despite his arguments otherwise, some shoulder tightness. That being so, they get to start the season on team-induced break. Arroyo, and his A-grade salad, mans the two spot, followed by Travis Wood, Leake and Sam LeCure in the 5 hole. LeCure's spot is not going to be needed for a while, but he gets to hang around with the big club and enjoy the far superior per diem. Wood and Leake will be counted on to not be terrible and I think they can live up to that potential.

I should just paste the opening sentence of the prior four sections here, the make-up of the pen, like everywhere else is still very much the same. Arty Rhodes is gone, Jocketty just thought 41 was too old to not develop foot problems, even though everyone liked him and he went to the All Star Game last year. That may be a wise business decision, if you agree to overlook the Cairo acquisition. Miguel, we kid, though you know you're not worth $2 million annually. Everyone else looks, and likely feels, very similar. Cordero will make everyone nervous. Chapman and Masset will handle the late innings. Chapman stealing all the headlines, which is okay. Masset is a drone, working for the good of the hive. He doesn't need all the accolades lauded upon the Cuban variety. Actually, the Reds Rocket, like everyone else is interested to see how Chapman throws this year. I saw a couple outings this spring where he was nowhere near the plate. I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be with 105 coming somewhere near the plate. But I'm not real comfortable with 75 coming at me. Gives me nose bleeds. Rounding out the group is Ondrusek, Bray and Jordan Smith. Matt Baloney and his new beard also get to stay with the big club and operate as long man. Burton and Arredondo start the season on the DL. Arredondo seems to have forgotten the major objective of pitching while he was on extended arm-repair sabbatical.

That is close to a pre-season wrap up. I am certain I left something out but the anticipation of the new season is just too much for the Reds Rocket to function properly. The Reds plan on taking everyone in the Central to the bank - the blood bank. Hooray! Gallardo won't know what hit him tomorrow.

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