Mark Sheldon has had to leave Spring Training a bit early, but he has posted a good review of what he’s learned so far:
Best development: The fifth starter battle between Micah Owings and Homer Bailey has been extremely strong. Whoever doesn’t get the role will be good to have for depth because it’s rare for a rotation to remain fully intact for a whole season.
Most troubling development: Francisco Cordero’s struggles. The rest of the Reds bullpen seems in good shape but the bridge from starter to closer would be for naught if Cordero doesn’t get it together before camp breaks.
Best new guy: Jonny Gomes has been fantastic from the start of camp and would take a complete collapse for the Reds to even consider not taking him north. Besides his right-handed bat, Gomes has a clubhouse presence and credibility that this young team will need as it forges its identity.
Still needs to happen: When catcher Ramon Hernandez returns from the World Baseball Classic, he will have to take a speed course to get comfortable with all of the Reds pitchers. Hernandez did what he could before leaving and he will get a less-than two week cramming session before camp breaks.
Still needs to happen II: Alex Gonzalez and his left knee have appeared to be healthy and continue to pass tests. Gonzalez still hasn’t played nine innings yet and he will need to show his knee can withstand that grind over multiple days.
Still needs to happen III: Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion need to get into a groove. Both haven’t done much at the plate to this point but both are starting to swing better.
He also makes his predictions for 2009; be sure to go read the entire post.