SATURDAY’S BASELINE ITEMS
Obviously, the big Reds news today is Ryan Madson’s season-ending elbow surgery. The news this morning hit like a ton of bricks. I read a lot of your tweets and comments and can certainly understand the emotions of sadness, anger and frustration. However, I’m not co-signing on the feeling of defeat, and here’s why…
- Baseball games aren’t played on paper and message boards. Even good teams have to deal with adversity; great teams overcome it. Let’s hold off at least until the second week of April before we write off the Reds. This team has talent and is deep. Its success isn’t dependent on one relief pitcher.
- Aroldis Chapman. I’ve seen him pitch three times so far this Spring and he resembles a man who was given a big package of pitching wisdom for Christmas. He’s focused and in control on the mound. The few times he’s been in trouble, he’s pitched himself out of it rather than throw himself deeper into it. I think I used the word “savy” on Twitter to describe his Saturday afternoon outing. Imagine a smarter, wiser Aroldis Chapman, whose breaking pitches look nastier than ever. Oh and to the pundits who all but eulogized his fastball, Chappy hit 98 on the gun today. I don’t know what the plan is for Chapman. I don’t know if he’s going to start or relieve. I don’t know if he’s going to be in Cincinnati on Opening Day. But I do know that he’s going to play a huge part in the Reds success this year.
- Jose Arredondo. 2012 will mark his second full-season following 2/2/10 “Tommy John” surgery – meaning, he’s back to full strength. Jose Arredondo at 100% is capable of complete filthiness (in a dominating kind of way…see year 2008). Arredondo (to my knowledge) isn’t a closer candidate but he will have a significant role in the bullpen and I suspect he will lessen the burden of losing Madson. I like him and I really like what I’ve seen from him.
- Zack Cozart. Worried about a rookie starting at shortstop? You should see this kid play. Next to Chapman, he’s been the most enjoyable Red to watch this Spring. I’m looking forward to seeing the looks on your faces when he makes that first Ozzie Smith-type play…he’ll probably have a couple of doubles in that game.
- Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Johnny Cueto, Sean Marshall and Bill Bray.
- Scott Rolen is healthy and he’s looking good…really good.
- Mat Latos is the real deal. It’s disgusting to think about how good this guy is going to be. And don’t let the so-called “attitude-issues” worry you. I can only judge a guy by the way he deals with me, personally. So far he’s been nothing but nice. It’s not unusual to see Mat milling around the Reds Spring Training complex chatting it up with everyone from our front desk employees to the parking lot guards. He’s intense on the mound and he takes his job seriously. Let’s not confuse that as being something else.
Those are just a few of my observations. I know they consist of a lot of things that can’t be quantified. Don’t hold that against me, I can only call ’em as I see ’em. I think this team is still very solid from top to bottom; probably the best team I’ve been a part of in my 100 years that I’ve worked here. I expect good news and I hope you do, too.
So let’s take a deep breath and smile. The sunshine is good for your teeth!
We have an entire baseball season staring at us in the face. That’s gotta be a good feeling, right?
And if you’re having a hard time smiling, take a look at my desk when I walked into work this morning. Someone (I know who) decided to have a little fun at my expense (and at the expense of our office supplies budget)….
I leave you with a few photos I snapped today in Peoria…