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.

7 Responses

  1. brublejr

    80 wins might be the best case senario. The offense is terrible, and hopefully the pitchers who are struggling can turn it around over the next couple of weeks.

  2. Dan

    Slightly off topic, but I don’t know where else to put it. This irks me every year but I never hear anyone talking about it.

    Based on the structure of MLB, there are 30 teams and 6 divisions.

    Most teams are in a 5-team division so they start the year with (all else being equal) a 1-in-5 (20%) chance to win their division.

    AL West teams have a 1-in-4 (25%) chance to win their division.

    NL Central teams have a 1-in-6 (16.7%) chance to win their division.

    Now, I know the “all else being equal” part is never true, of course.

    But do you see my point? Purely based on the STRUCTURE OF THE LEAGUE (something that is 100% out of their control), the Reds go into the season with an 8.3% worse chance than the AL West teams have of winning the division.

    No other major pro sport is like this! NHL, NFL, and NBA all have equal-sized divisions.

    I think the argument is that if you had all 5-team divisions, you’d have 15-team leagues, and so you’d need at least one interleague game every day (unless teams had off-days). To which I say, so what?

    Anyway, I think I drop this rant every year about this time. I just don’t get it. It irks me that the league is set up this way, and it irks me that no one even talks about it!

    Any thoughts? Am I preaching to the choir here? (preach, please advise… 😉 )

  3. Bill Lack

    Hopefully Jay is starting to come around, he’s 5-8 with a double, HR and 3 RBI’s in his last 2 games.

  4. Matt WI

    Well, until they get better, we could argue that sharing a division with the Pirates is like being in a five team league. Sadly, a non-Reds fan might point out the same about the Reds. Anyway, I very much agree with your point, I’ve thought about that before. Whether they end up contracting somebody or not, they should fix the imbalance.

  5. Glenn

    I heard Welch say yesterday that Cordero’s ankle is still not 100 percent and its effecting his fastball. Welch seems to think that by the seasons start Cordero should have his strength back.

    Secondly, I do agree, offense is going to be a problem this year.

  6. nycredsfan

    Unfortunately, unless 4 or 5 guys have career years offensively and the pitching is very solid, this team won’t win more than 80-82 games.

    I agree about the unbalanced divisions, but the way I look at it is that the divisions with only 4 or 5 teams have to have those teams play each other way more than the Reds have to play their division opponents. Imagine if the Brewers left the division and that meant one extra series a year against the Pirates, Cards, etc. Not sure that’d be better

  7. RiverCity Redleg

    Dan, I bitch quietly about that every year as well. However, I understand why they do it. Baseball is the only sport that holds interleague play sacred (Also, b/c there are different rules for each league. There is no way they will have an interleague game every day. So until they expand to 2 more team, it will have to be this way. I just hate that it is the Reds’ div with the extra team.