Good morning, Nation. We’re back with our weekly installment of “This Week in Baseball”, where Taylor, Matt, and Jeff will highlight interesting and/or important stories happening throughout baseball. As always, hope you enjoy – and let us know what you’ve been reading by posting in the comment section below. #beatthecards

Matt Korte

Early Winners, Losers of MLB’s Biggest Offseason Trades

By Mike Rosenbaum, MLB Prospects Lead Writer via Bleacher Report                        

With the wealth of moves every off-season, at least by some teams, GM’s can create a legacy or as easily ruin it based on the outcome of the trades they do and do not make.  What better time to measure the winners and losers of the off-season deals made than two weeks into the season?  This article highlights two teams specifically operating in the black as a result of their off-season deals; the Padres and Tigers.  It is no secret that the Padres had perhaps the most active off-season in MLB and their GM, AJ Preller is the early front-runner for Executive of the Year.  Any time you can add hitters like Kemp, Upton and Myers in an off-season as well as Craig Kimbrel within 24 hours of opening day…its a good winter.  But also of interest to Reds fans, is the initial impact and success of Alfredo Simon in Detroit.  In his first two starts, he is 2-0 with an ERA of 2.03…luckily we have Jason Marquis to fill his shoes.

A Special Day to be a Dodger: What Jackie Robinson Day Means to Me

By Jimmy Rollins via Sports Illustrated

One thing I enjoy that has been a new trend in sports journalism in recent years has been the willingness and availability of the athletes themselves to pen articles…rather than only getting a few short quotes in articles, several athletes have been willing to take over whole articles…as is the case with Jimmy Rollins and this article on celebrating Jackie Robinson.  Aside from him going into detail about the meaning of the day and his personal background he also speaks to several pressing issues; most notably why young African Americans are now choosing to play basketball or football instead of baseball.  He elaborates on the role of marketing in the game as well as some of the traditions of “how the game is played” that may be holding the game back.  Overall, an interesting take from a respected veteran in the league who raises a few points I believe the league brass should take to heart.

Taylor Ballinger

How to Stay Sane in Baseball

By: Adrian Cárdenas, via The New Yorker

Adrian Cárdenas, former Big Leaguer and current NYU student, writes about the mental health issues facing ballplayers, and what teams and organizations are finally starting to do to address the problems. A particularly fascinating read, considering how mentally taxing is the game of baseball – and how long it’s taken baseball to start rethinking “macho” culture.

Suit Up: How MLB Mentors Pay it Forward, One Lesson (and Shopping Spree) at a Time

By: Jonah Keri, via Grantland

Here’s a heartwarming story for all you grizzled Reds fans out there. Jonah Keri profiles some MLB veterans, namely LaTroy Hawkins, Trevor Hoffman, and John Axford, and how they help take care of young players. Hawkins recounts his experience playing alongside the great Kirby Puckett, who treated a young Hawkins’ to a shopping spree in New York to buy a couple of nice suits. Hawkins has continued this tradition over his years on the majors, as have Hoffman and Axford. I particularly loved this piece in light of the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal a couple seasons back. Instead of hazing rookies and forcing them to pay for expensive meals, Hawkins and other veterans make sure to take care of the young players, making them feel welcome and showing them the proverbial “ropes”. Seems like the appropriate way to build team culture, to me.

St. Louis to America: Don’t Be Jealous

By: Francis G. Slay, Mayor of St. Louis

Since the Reds are in St. Louis this weekend, thought I’d post this gem of a letter, penned last year by St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay. As if we didn’t have reason enough to hate the Cardinals, this letter, dripping with condescension, should seal the deal. My favorite line: “The point is that we here in the Midwest are not a boastful people. We’re humble and quietly go about our business, inventing the things you use every day, entertaining you, finding employment for your citizens and handing you losses on the baseball field regularly.” Uh, dude, you just spent the whole article doing the exact opposite of this. Excuse me while I wash the taste of vomit out of my mouth.

Jeff Gangloff

Bryant ready to make an impact

By: David Schoenfield, ESPN

Kris Bryant is set to make his major league debut on Friday, but how good can he be? David Shoenfield examines the strengths, weaknesses, and the hype that surrounds the Cub’s up and coming third baseman. Will the slugger live up to hefty expectations or will he fizzle out much like the Cubs have done over the past 100 years?

Lenny Randle’s Italian Baseball Renaissance

By: Dan Epstein, Rolling Stone

Former Major League baseball player Lenny Randle has had quite the career since he left the bigs in 1982. Now living in Italy, Randell is determined to make his current homeland a talent pool for MLB organizations. Randell is also convinced that moving MLB games overseas to Italy would provide publicity and would be “awesome.” I’m not sure which is crazier, some of Randell’s ideas or the hobbies, predicaments, and lifestyle he has gotten himself into over the years.