Ask the Editor
The sun is out, the birds are chirping and there is nearly an absence of snow for the first time in what seems like forever so what better time to talk about the nation's favorite past time, baseball!
In recent weeks the papers have been filled with baseball trades.
While I don't watch this information closely, I have seen very minimal activity regarding the Cincinnati Reds. After suffering through a dismal year with them in 2003, I was hoping to see their taking action to position themselves for a better 2004.
Please let me know your thoughts on what we can expect to see out of the Reds this year - my personal preference is to get rid of Jr., who has been less than stellar for them, and use that money for overall player improvements - especially pitching.
Well, being a child born of the Big Red Machine era, the past few years have been pretty tough to be a Reds fan. Injuries, poor pitching, mass trades and a front office that has been turned upside down have provided little comfort for Cincinnati fans who were promised a competitive team to open their Great American Launching Pad last year.
While the Reds had the look of a daunting lineup to open the season, the usual injury bug that most teams suffer was more like a plague of locusts for Cincinnati.
Per usual, Ken Griffey Jr. dislocated his shoulder in week one and returned only to tear a ligament in his ankle. In 2002 he tore a tendon in his right knee while rounding third base in the sixth game of the season and was limited to 111 games in 2001 when he tore a hamstring in spring training.
Not only has Junior not been Mr. October, he hasn't even been on the field to be Mr. May.
However, familiar refrains are ringing from the Reds' Spring Training Complex in Sarasota as Griffey is said to be nearly 100 percent along with fellow stars Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns who each had season ending surgery before the end of the year.
While each of those players are coming back fresh, the Reds are incredibly thin on their bench. The starting lineup will be quite solid, but if any of those front liners end up hobbled, the Reds will sink faster than a snitch in New Jersey.
The real key this season will be the makeshift starting rotation that looks to include journeyman Jimmy Haynes along with Paul Wilson and late season acquisition Cory Lidle. The other two rotation spots will be filled from amongst Brandon Claussen, Aaron Harang, Jose Acevedo, B.J. Mattox, players who mostly were picked up in last Fall's fire sale of veterans for prospects.
Lidle could be a nice pickup if he regains the form he displayed in 2001-02 in Oakland when he had a nearly 3-1 ratio of strikeouts to walks and combined for 21 wins and 16 losses with a sub-4.00 ERA. Haynes needs to bounce back from a disappointing 2003 when he was 2-12. Most forget that he won 15 games in 2002 and threw nearly 200 innings. Wilson won eight games last year and provides durability that the Reds depend on to get them to their strong bullpen.
New G.M. Dan O'Brien has finally started piecing together the parts to rebuild a program is still suffering from the dark days of Marge Schott.
A minor league program near the bottom in providing big league talent was the first to garner attention. O'Brien signed some talented scouts and dividing them amongst high school, college and international players which should payoff down the road. Though the Reds didn't make any splashy signs over the offseason, O'Brien has planted the seeds for a rebirth down the road. The question is now whether there will be any fans left in the seats by the time the team starts to win.
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