Monthly Archives: March 2008

March 30, 2008

Here We Go!

The real games start tomorrow. Well, for the Reds anyhow. Of course the Red Sox and A’s began their seasons last week when everyone wasn’t paying attention. I hardly noticed myself.

Looking back on my bold spring training predictions, I’d say I did pretty good. I had Volquez making the rotation, I had Bailey and Bruce being sent down, and I had a dog fight between Hatteberg and Votto for first base, with Hatte making a strong case to start on opening day. I even had Paul Bako possibly making the team and driving everyone crazy, which he has done.
Considering C. Trent is bragging about only being 2 spots away from his roster prediction which he made only two weeks ago, I’d say I did pretty good having made my predictions before they even played a practice game.

Where I went wrong was not foreseeing the Corey Patterson signing. The writing was clearly on the wall with Dusty scoffing at OBP as an overrated stat, and even mentioning Corey by name when discussing centerfielders available via free agency. Somehow I just thought our duo of GMs woould veto such nonsense having two qualified leadoff candidates in Ryan Freel and Norris Hopper already on the roster. So I missed on that one.

I will now predict what goes down in the opening month, which is such a critical time as it sets the table for the rest of the year. A disastrous start, and the team may never recover. An early winning streak and the momentum can carry deep into the season. Momentum in baseball is huge. Once the fans and the talking heads start believing in you, the psychological trickle down effect actually makes the players think they are better than they probably are and anything becomes possible. Of course the opposite is equally true.

So let’s peer into the crystal ball and see what’s in store for the 2008 Reds in the opening month. Harang and Arroyo will be solid if not spectacular. Cueto, if slotted to pitch behind Arroyo, is going to struggle. His last 3 starts of the spring indicated he is not as major league ready as the scouts and media claimed he was after his first couple of outings. His M.O. the past 3 starts was to put base runners on immediately. Two of the starts he then struggled to throw strikes and took damage. His last start he struck out the side to escape trouble. In all three of his past outings he tallied up a high pitch count early and was pitching from the stretch often. While he clearly has more command than Bailey, his control definitely needs improvement, especially when he has runners on base. Personally I have him slotted as the #5 pitcher and I am hoping it still falls that way, but Fay and C. Trent have been pretty consistent in projecting him as the #3 starter simply because that is his schedule. However, Volquez has not pitched in 5 days and if he is not needed in emergency relief the first two ball games he is available to be the #3 starter as well. So I will make the bold prediction that Dusty gives the not to Volquez, not Cueto, for game #3. Edinson has a spring ERA of 2.70 compared to Johnny’s 5+ ERA, and his spring K/BB ratio of 26 to 3 is simply awesome. How can you not give this guy the #3 slot?

I believe Hatteberg gets the start on opening day [update: C. Trent is indeed reporting that Hatte is in the opening day lineup]. He had a superb spring, batting over .385 while Votto struggled barely cracking the Mendoza line. Votto made the team though, so I expect him to get some starts, perhaps when the pitching match up is more favorable. By the end of April he may be ready to assume the every day job.

Patterson will be the opening day centerfielder and leadoff hitter, but I expect Freel and Hopper to get some starts as well. I don’t think this situation is in cement, I expect to see a lot of shuffling around as really none of these guys is the perfect leadoff candidate. Hopper had a great half of season, but can he duplicate it? Freel, coming off injury and one of his worst seasons, is not a sure thing either. If none of these guys steps up and seizes the job, Jay Bruce will get the call after May. I believe there is a magical date in late May that postpones his free agency eligibility another year, so look for him to be called up shortly after that time. Once that happens we may forget all about Patterson’s OBP and Dusty’s loyalty to past players.

A pretty tough schedule prevents the Reds from exploding out of the gate, but I expect a solid month from them nonetheless. Look for them to be right around the .500 mark and very much in the race, just a couple of games out of first place. I don’t see any team running away with this thing and it should be a dog fight to the bitter end. Cordero will close the games in near perfect fashion and in doing so the whole bullpen will show marked improvement. Mercker will develop a sore arm by May and be replaced by Bray. Lincoln probably won’t survive very long clearing a roster spot for hard throwing Roenicke or possibly Marcus McBeth depending on who is peforming better in Louisville.

Everyone’s favorite, Gary Majewski, will fail to maintain an ERA below 4 in AAA and thankfully will not be promoted in the forseeable future. Griffey stays healthy for at least the first month so the offense is pretty solid, though the debate about leadoff hitter will rage on.

The big question mark in my mind is Edwin Encarnacion. He looked downright clueless in spring training, and if he doesn’t get his act together Keppinger will be more than happy to slide over and grab his job when Alex Gonzalez returns to action. Ryan Freel is more than capable of playing third as well. Its one thing to struggle in Spring, but if he chokes when the games count I don’t expect Dusty to have infinite patience. We need a power right handed bat in the middle of the lineup, so Edwin’s success or failure could strongly determine the fate of the Reds season.

Josh Fogg will be surprisingly solid as the #4 starter assuming Dusty has a short hook and is ready to pull him after 5 innings. History tells us Fogg falls off fast once he gets past 5 innings.

My crystal ball has suddenly gone dark, that’s about all I got right now for you.


March 29, 2008


…candid photography, snap-snap, click-click, know what I mean, nudge-nudge, say no more. 😉

I got back from Florida last night. Two days of driving each way…but probably the smarter choice, given all those people sleeping in airports while the planes are inspected for cracks. (And yes, if I’d flown, it would have been Delta.)

I went to six baseball games in six days, and took a ton of photos at all of them. Weirdly, one of the ushers at a Reds game told me that cameras were not allowed in the stadium. WTF? Who ever heard of a rule like that? Practically everyone there had a camera and was snapping photos left and right, but he singled me out and told me to put the camera away. Jeez. I thought they were Nazis at Yankee Stadium, but they allow cameras there. (I simply moved to another section and continued taking photos.)

Yup, I’m afraid it’s the moment you’ve all been dreading: I’m inflicting my vacation photos on you.

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March 29, 2008

BuyCincy Opening Day Guide

Got an email about this yesterday and thought I’d pass it along. Seems like good info if you’re going to be in the Queen City for Opening Day.

BuyCincy Header

BuyCincy, CityBeat’s “Best Blog” in their 2008 Best of Cincinnati issue, is pleased to announce its 2008 Opening Day Guide. As a part of our mission to highlight the area’s best locally owned businesses, we have given the lowdown on where to eat, drink and watch the game locally, and even the best places to see the Opening Day parade! We thought your readers might be interested in our guide, which can be found here:

March 28, 2008

Predicting the Division–or–Who Can Be the Least Bad

Super Suppan
Opening Day is nearly here. Or technically I guess it’s already done, since it apparently happened on the other side of the world when I was getting ready to drive to work. What the hell is wrong with Bud Selig?

But the real Opening Day is nearly here, and after following these teams for a spring, it’s difficult to predict who will be the worst in the coming year.

I mean, there’s the perennial winner, the Cardinals, who are just awful. They’re counting on Rick Ankiel and Chris Duncan for all their offense other than Albert Pujols, and their rotation is empty without the great Chris Carpenter to anchor them. But on the other hand, Ankiel and Duncan do have some potential and they have rid themselves of David Eckstein.

They don’t look so bad when you look at the Astros. The Astros, not content with the worst farm system in the league, have completely dismantled their major league pitching organization to bring in the likes of Miguel Tejada and Kaz Matsui. Then again, they’re just starting this push for homers.

The Reds have been going down this ill-fated path for years. That won’t be a problem this year. The Reds promised to search the corners of the earth for just the right manager, and then hired the first guy who walked through the door. A guy who prefers lead-off hitters who get out more. A guy with a history of running young pitchers into the ground. A guy who really understands that black and Hispanic players are better than white players in day games.

But at least the Reds have some talent. How about those Pirates? There’s a team that wouldn’t know how to sign a number one draft pick even if they could manage to perform enough below mediocre to get one. And talk about a history of losing: 2008 is going to be consecutive losing season number 16 for this franchise.

Of course, no one can outdo the Cubs for losing. Losing their minds to blow all that money on Kosuke Fukudome, leaving them with no choice but to include Jason Marquis in the rotation. At least Ryan Dempster didn’t make it. Oh wait.

Which brings us to those Brewers.

Well, they’re pretty OK actually. I mean, they’re no Big Red Machine, but at least their fans don’t sit in such a constantly deranged state that they think just now cutting Mike Stanton heralds good things for the team.

So, yeah, I’ll go with them.

March 28, 2008

Reds To Cut Stanton

Reds LHP Mike Stanton has been told by the club that they plan to let him go, according to an article by John Erardi on the Cincinnati Enquirer’s web site.

The move will cost the Reds $3.5 million (Stanton’s salary this year plus an option for next year).

If you ask me, I think this indicates two things.

One, the Reds have again shown that they’re not afraid to eat some salary. They could have kept Stanton on in light of the $3,500,000 it’s going to cost them to cut him – and presumably been forced to cut or option a better player in order to keep Stanton. This shows that improving the team is the primary concern, rather than the bottom line.

Two, it would appear that one of the non-roster invitee lefty relievers has made the team. For what it’s worth, my money’s on Kent Mercker.