As UC basketball's postseason hopes are all but non-existent now, I'm more focused on Spring Training and the Reds right now. So bear with me as I give a few thoughts on the ball-club about a month before Opening Day:
- I'm already liking Dusty Baker. Not sure he was the best fit with the Cubs anyway, but looks like he'll work out great here. Unlike the past line of Reds managers [maybe dating back to Davey Johnson?] he has an amazing baseball pedigree. The young players are virtually forced to respect him. I was telling Kelly that, by the end of this season, of the six players with 600 or more home-runs, Dusty will have managed three [Bonds, Sosa, Griffey], and played with a fourth [Hank].
- Although I like Dusty, I'm a bit disappointed that he's holding back Jay Bruce. The stud 'o' the future will most likely start the season in Louisville. Maybe I'm ticked because he's a keeper on my fantasy league, but I'd like to see him playing big league ball already.
- That said, I'm feeling pretty good about the Corey Patterson signing. I would be shocked if Norris Hopper and Ryan Freel are both on the 25-man roster at the beginning of the season.
- And that leads to pitching. The starting rotation is still not fantastic. They have some stellar arms, but some are a tad young. I'd like one more decent starter. Hopper, Freel, maybe even Scott Hatteberg could be some nice trade bait to teams with holes to fill.
- I'm still holding that the Reds have a great chance to win the Central. The Cubs are overrated, the Brewers are spastic, and the Cards aren't what they used to be. If the rotation gets solid and they avoid major injuries, Cincinnati could make the postseason.
- But even if they don't, I'm OK with that. I'm loving that Bob Castellini is investing in the ball-club. It started small [bringing in professional announcers], built itself up [adding a quality manager as well as a solid closer], and is now focused toward the future. Note this article that explains how the Reds shelled out to get the rights to a 16 year-old Dominican phenom. The effects of this move might not benefit the club for five years or so, but it speaks volumes about how they view the future.
In short, I'm excited about baseball already.