I have been following the Cincinnati Reds since before the World Series Champion teams of ’75 and ’76, and I don’t think I’ve ever known when Spring Training was starting. I’m not that dude; if I’m into the team, I’m into the games, but I don’t get all deep into it beyond that. I don’t watch drafts, and I don’t have the time for Fantasy.
Spring Training has always meant spending time on dudes who just weren’t gonna be around for the season. I put faith in team management to make the good decisions, which would field the best team come opening day. I’d catch up with them around the first of April.
But this year it’s different; this year I’m jazzed. The Reds’ Spring Training play begins Saturday versus the Indians, and I’m going to be interested in seeing how things progress.
This reporting class has a lot of dudes competing for fewer spots (especially in the outfield and pitching positions), and it’s going to be really cool to see who wins spots, and which potential standouts are relegated to backup roles.
You’ve got Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker, who had solid years as starters last year, and Pillip Ervin, who played a lot and contributed. Then, you have Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig coming in from the Dodgers and top prospect Jose Siri.
It’s looking like Siri’s still at least a year off, so it brings it down to five guys, all good enough to start, competing for the three positions, and you gotta think it boils further down to Puig, Schebler, and Winker trying not to be the odd man out in the attempt to join Kemp out there. I think he’s the only one who has it to lose going in.
I’m really big on both Winker and Schebler, but Puig can be really special. I’ve never been much of a fan of his, but he’s got a few years on him now, so maybe the Reds get a beast of a player who leaves all the LA antics behind. If the cat comes ready to play ball and plays ball, he probably has more potential than any of the rest of them. I really hope he does.
Then, you get to the pitchers, and for a guy like me, who has paid attention to many of these guys for the past few years, it’s just a really exciting situation full of so much breakout potential.
You got Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, Amir Garrett, Tyler Mahle, Sal Romano, Brandon Finnegan, and Robert Stephenson. Plus, you can’t rule out the possibility of Michael Lorenzen in the rotation. Having seen what these men can do, I see a lot of potential for Cy Youngs even. Yes, there’s also the potential for going 25-43 over four seasons and going to play in Japan or throwing an arm out, but all of these guys can just straight up pitch lights out baseball at times. What remains to be seen is who can do so fairly consistently over 33 or 34 starts.
To that, they’ve added Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark and Alex Wood.
I didn’t mention Raisel Iglesias, but his role is pretty much set; the question there is if it will expand some in innings pitched.
So, there’s a lot to be hopeful for. I still believe Joey Votto will win another MVP, and 35 is an excellent age to win a second one. Returning to join Joey in the infield are a couple of other players who have MVP potential, Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett. Jose Peraza will most likely complete an unchanged infield.
So, yes, much to be excited about in Reds camp. As the title of this states, we’re going into the season without Billy Hamilton, who is off to Kansas City to join a team of speedsters, and Matt Harvey, who promises that he is becoming a Los Angeles Angel with a renewed focus on being better on and off the field. I can’t say I don’t I wish those guys were still around; I like what both brought to the team, and I think both still have great feats ahead of them as players. So, I guess there’s a bit of FOMO; if Billy goes to the AL and starts hitting .280, or if Harvey goes and puts it all back together and wins 20, it’s really gonna sting.
But, wha’ya gonna do; that’s just how the game rolls. And these games will roll. There will be 162 of them and hopefully more. Before that though, these other 32 games must be played, and we’ll get to see who is going to compete hard enough to represent the club on opening day.
I’ve been a big supporter of this rebuild since it began, and while I might be a year or two late on the prediction, I still believe it’s going to end with a playoff team. My expectations have been more than the team has produced over the last couple of years, but, just like those pitchers and their occasional flashes of greatness, this club has shown really special things at times, and the new faces they’re bringing to camp are going to raise the potential for that greatly.
It’s gonna be fun. I’ll see you at the park, and I’ll catch up with you back here sometime soon. Play nice.