* Today:

  1. Can they repeat as division champions?
  2. How long will the Chapman-to-rotation debate run?
  3. How deep is the 2011 starting pitching crop?
  4. Who will be 2011’s surprise pitcher?
  5. What about the shortstop situation?

* From a Chris Jaffe article a few weeks ago. Jaffe writes great stuff about managers and I can’t tell you enough how much I like his book on managers.

The greatest managerial rivalry of our times

Mark September 3, 2011 on your calendar, everybody. Barring rainouts, that will mark the 200th time that LaRussa and Dusty Baker face each other in the regular season. It’ll be the first time in over a quarter century that a pair of managers has ever reached the 200-game marker. …

The Baker-LaRussa rivalry is better than the Tanner-Williams one. Baker and LaRussa just plain don’t like each other. Their teams don’t like each other, either, as evidenced by last year’s Reds-Cardinals brawl. The two squads battled for the division crown last season and spent most of the offseason expecting to fight for it again this year. (Though Adam Wainwright’s injury may change that around). It’s perfect that Baker and LaRussa have gone toe-to-toe so often.

* Dusty and Cincinnati

This last one is less a milestone than it’s something I found surprising. Dusty Baker has only managed the Reds for three years, but he’s already moved up the team leaderboard fairly well. In fact, in June he’ll have lasted longer with the club than Jack McKeon did. Why is that important? Well, it means that Baker will have lasted with the Reds longer than any manager since Pete Rose, whom baseball banned over 20 years ago.

That’s an impressive level of managerial turnover. In over 20 years, the club hasn’t had someone last four full seasons. That’s not unprecedented, but it certainly isn’t usual. If Baker makes it to the end of 2012, he’ll be the fifth man to log 800 games with the Reds, and the first since Sparky Anderson over 30 years ago.

Click on over to THT to read the entire piece. Good stuff.