Thursday, January 28, 2010

Reds Offseason

I'll start off with a look at the Reds last ten seasons (thanks to Baseball Almanac for the info):

2009: 78-84, 4th place in NL Central, Payroll: $73,558,500
2008: 74-88, 5th place in NL Central, Payroll: $74,277,685
2007: 72-90, 5th place in NL Central, Payroll: $68,904,980
2006: 80-82, 3rd place in NL Central, Payroll: $60,909,519
2005: 73-89, 5th place in NL Central, Payroll: $61,892, 583
2004: 76-86, 4th place in NL Central, Payroll: $43,067,858
2003: 69-93, 5th place in NL Central, Payroll: $59,355,667
2002: 78-84, 3rd place in NL Central, Payroll: $45,050,390
2001: 66-96, 5th place in NL Central, Payroll: $45,227,882
2000: 85-77, 2nd place in NL Central, Payroll: $46,867,200

The last time the Redlegs made the playoffs was 1995...

Sorry, had to stop to ponder that for a minute (and wipe away a tear). As you can see, it is easy to have little hope left about a dream season anytime soon. And yet somehow every offseason I found a way to convince myself that this year is OUR year. This year is no different, as I refuse to give up hope... until summer rolls around and we are again fighting for 4th place in the division.

What have the Reds done this offseason to provide a little hope for the fans? It all starts with quite possibly the biggest surprise signing in baseball:
  • Aroldis Chapman: The soon to be 22 year old Cuban southpaw immediately became the best left-handed pitching prospect in Major League Baseball when he signed a 6 year, $30.25 million contract with the Reds. My take: Reds fans were grumbling about another offseason in which we let opportunities slip away. Walt Jocketty made a splash when nobody was looking, and it felt great to have a little water in the face when I was focused on nothing but football and college basketball. Let's hope the Reds don't rush him into the rotation before he is ready. Chapman throws HARD, but he hasn't developed a secondary pitch that is good enough to take care of big league hitters. If he makes it to the majors in 2010, it will instantly become one of the biggest stories in MLB.
  • Extending Scott Rolen: The decision by Rolen and the Reds to restructure his contract works in favor of both parties. As noted by Mark Sheldon, the move gave the Reds some more payroll flexibility for the present and future, and it gives Rolen two more years of job security. My take: Rolen is one of, if not THE best defensive third basemen in baseball, and he's not too bad with the wood either. He also gives the Reds some veteran leadership, and some World Series experience to keep us ground if we do finally make a playoff push.
  • Resigning Ramon: Jocketty kicked off the offseason by declining the option on Ramond Hernandez's contract. He followed that up by resigning the veteran backstop for $3.0 million in 2010, with a vesting $3.25 million option. My take: The catching market was pretty weak, and there wasn't a better option in house, in my opinion. Hanigan is probably not the answer at catcher for the future of this team, so bringing back a veteran that can continue to help develop our good, young arms would seem to be a worthwhile move.
  • Bringing in Cabrera: Everybody that even remotely pays attention to the Reds knew that shortstop was easily the biggest position of need heading into this offseason. The Reds have tried to solve that weakness by bringing in Orlando Cabrera on a 1 year, $3 million deal with another $3 million option for 2011. My take: Cabrera can't be anything but an upgrade over the production we've gotten offensively from the shortstop position in the last few seasons. If he can even play above average defense he will be the right man for the job, in my opinion.
  • A Few Minor Moves: There will be a few guys coming in on Minor League contracts, and none of them are worth shouting over. There a couple of moves that a like, a couple of move that I'm neutral on, and really nothing to be angry about. My Take:
  • Miguel Cairo: Should provide solid defense from all four infield positions as a utility guy, and will have a decent chance at making the roster out of Spring Training.
  • Jose Arredondo: Will not be able to pitch until 2011 after Tommy John Surgery. When he returns, Reds fans will be very happy with this signing because Arredondo has been a strikeout machine when healthy.
  • Josh Anderson / Laynce Nix: Neither guy would appear to be the answer in Left Field, as both have struggled at the plate throughout their time in the Majors. Nix showed some power last season, and has the better chance at making the roster, but it will be as a backup outfielder and pinch hitter at most.
  • Chris Burke: With the Cairo signing and Paul Janish still hanging around, Burke will have to bring something special to the team during Spring Training. I don't see it happening, and I don't see Burke being a Red for very long.
  • Jonny Gomes Coming Back (Soon): A Gomes return appears imminent, and you can count me as one of the Reds fans that is pretty excited about that. Why? Because he broke out last year and proved he is the answer in left field? Nope. Because he hit 20 home runs last season? Not quite. Because he looked really cool when he wore that mo-hawk for the Rays in the playoffs? Precisely. Gomes is a fun guy that brings a solid work ethic to a young team that is full of otherwise quiet characters. He may not be the answer in left field, and he may not hit 20 home runs, but if somebody comes after one of our pitchers, you can bet he will come in swinging.
  • Ridding the Outfield of Tavares: The one big trade made from Cincinnati this offseason has been the one I've been hoping for since before the trade deadline last year. Tavares ended up being quite the bust when it comes to leading off and playing centerfield, and the Reds have tried to make some good of the situation by moving his contract and bringing in a utility guy in Aaron Miles. The trade also included Adam Rosales, a guy that got a chance to show what he could do in the majors last season and didn't quite live up to expectations. My take: This leaves little to no pressure on Drew Stubbs heading into Spring Training, which could be a good or bad thing. Let's face it, with Dusty Baker managing this club, he very well could have started Willy in the leadoff spot and delayed the development of Stubbs. The future is looking bright all around the diamond with the solid young players that will be getting playing time in 2010.
It looks like this is the product the Reds will be putting on the field for the 2010 season:
C - Ramon Hernandez
Ryan Hanigan
1B - Joey Votto
2B - Brandon Phillips
SS - Orlando Cabrera
3B- Scott Rolen
INF - Miguel Cairo
Aaron Miles
LF - Chris Dickerson
CF - Drew Stubbs
RF - Jay Bruce
OF - Laynce Nix
Jonny Gomes
SP - Aaron Harang
Bronson Arroyo
Johnny Cueto
Homer Bailey
Aroldis Chapman
RP - Jared Burton
Mike Lincoln
Arthur Rhodes
Micah Owings
Danny Herrera
Nick Masset
Francisco Cordero

Obviously there are a few positions there that I am being bold in predicting, but for the most part this is the most comfortable I've felt about knowing who should make the roster out of Spring Training. That certainly can't be a bad thing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dream Super Bowl

Since the day Drew Brees went to New Orleans, the possibility of a Brees vs. Manning Super Bowl has had me salivating. The thought of my two favorite football players of all time squaring off for the Championship in the sport the consumes my life gives me a funny feeling deep down inside.

This game has the makings to be one of the best football games that any of us have ever seen in our lives. Just a few of the excellent match-ups we get to look forward to, dream about, and pick apart for the next two weeks:
  • Brees vs. Manning: I would argue that these are the top two quarterbacks in the NFL at this point in time. I know some would try to throw Tom Brady into that conversation, but I just can't do that as a Purdue and Colts fan. There is going to be a lot a chucking the ol' pigskin in this one, and both of these guys will look to carry his team to glory.
  • Freeney and Mathis vs. New Orleans' Pro Bowl O-Line: Mathis and Freeney have both looked excellent this year, and are considered one of the best defensive end duos in the league (obviously I'm biased and would consider them THE best). They will be lining up across from an offensive line that had two players voted into the Pro Bowl, and another added as an injury replacement. The group has only allowed Breesus to be sacked once all postseason, and neither Freeney nor Mathis have recorded a sack in a postseason game. It will be interesting to see if the Saints big uglies can continue to slow down the Colts explosive rush.
  • Colts Receivers vs. New Orleans Secondary: This might be my favorite match-up of all. Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Pierre Garçon, Dallas Clark, and Marvi... I mean Antho.. Ok just those four. But just those four have been more than enough for this incredible ride that we are on. I MUST give special mention of what Pierre Garçon did last week against what was supposed to be an excellent Jets secondary. The guy simply made big play after big play and carried the Colts (with a little help from Peyton) to victory. They will be up against one of the best playmaking secondaries in the NFL. Three players returned interceptions for scores, and Darren Sharper was quite possibly the best defensive player in the NFL this year. Both sides will have to give it their all on every play, and this could be the matchup that decides the game.
I will continue to dream about what this game means to those of us in Boilermaker and Colt territories, and as I dream I will continue to post some tidbits for your viewing pleasure. In the meantime, be sure to check out Super Bowl central at ESPN for all of the latest news and information about the big game.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

NFL Conference Championship Games

Tomorrow 's championship games feature three teams that everybody expected to be there from the get go, and one that came on late (thanks to a little help from the Colts and Bengals coaching staffs) to seal a playoff spot, and has stuck to their game plan to carry them through the playoffs.

As a Colts fan, I would have loved the opportunity for them to play the Chargers or Patriots in the AFC Championship, because a victory would be that much sweeter. Also, as a Purdue Boilermaker at heart, I love seeing Drew Brees continue to grow into one of the best quarterbacks in the league. With that said, my predictions for tomorrow's games:

AFC: Jets @ Colts, 3 PM, CBS
I have never been one to go into a game feeling overconfident. If there is one lesson I learned from coaching football this past fall, it's that anything can happen on any given day. The J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets have been the perfect example of that all throughout this year's playoff's. If you had told me that Nate Kaeding, after missing only three field goals all season, was going to miss three field goals in one game, I would have bet my entire collection of Colts memorabilia on it. Good thing I didn't because the Jets have had things going there way the last two weeks. With some good hard running, taking care of the ball, and stepping it up on defense they have played their way into the title game, and they certainly can't be taken lightly.

HOWEVER, this is the Indianapolis Colts, winners of 15 straight meaningful games, and 23 of their last 24 games that actually mattered, with the one loss to a Chargers team in an overtime in which the Colts did not get an offensive possession. This team knows how to win games with offense, defense, and special teams. Peyton Manning is quite possibly playing the best football of his career, as are Dallas Clark, and Reggie Wayne. We will also be watching a defense that has been very solid all season, executing the bend but don't break better than any team in the history of the game. Antoine Bethea, Gary Brackett, Kelvin Hayden, and Robert Mathis are four of the most underrated defensive players in the game.

Look for the Colts to stack the box early to slow down (there's no shutting down) the Jets running game. Offensively, Peyton will look to throw early and often to build a quick lead. If the Colts get up by more than 10, the Jets will have to lean on Mark Sanchez, and without a truly reliable weapon beyond his tight end Dustin Keller (Boiler Up!), I can't be convinced that this would turn out pretty for the Jets. FINAL SCORE: Colts 31 Jets 10

NFC: Vikings @ Saints, 6:30 PM, FOX
I'll keep this simple. This will be the best game that any of us have seen in the NFL ALL SEASON LONG. Two very solid offenses that love to score points in bunches go up against two defenses that love two make big plays.

This game will be all about Drew Brees making plays two everybody on the roster. It seems like they could line up Garrett Hartley (the kicker) at wide receiver and Brees would find a way to get him the ball. If the Saints can get anything from the running game combination of Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, and Mike Bell they will have a slight advantage in this game. Defensively, the Saints need to make Adrain Peterson beat them, because he has been very quiet as of late, and as a result we have seen Brett Favre and Sidney Rice chewing up secondaries and spitting them out.

Offensively for the Vikings, they need to get Peterson going early so that things will open up for Favre, and he can take some shots deep to Sidney Rice. Rice has emerged this season as one of the best deep threats in the NFL. The Vikings defense is predictable in what they are going to do, but they are one of the absolute best at doing it. Jared Allen and Ray Edwards (Boilers represented well this weekend) need to get pressure on Drew Brees, and the secondary will have to play its best game of the season.

I'm thinking we are going to see this game decided on the final play. FINAL SCORE: Saints 38 Vikings 35.

Enjoy a day of exciting football, and check back on Monday for my thoughts on how the games went.


This here will be my first shot at blogging after years of openly sharing my opinions about all things sports with my friends and family members. You may not like what I have to say about everything, but I will promise to try to entertain you with all of my postings. If you have an opinion about something that I post, I promise to be open to hearing it, and will always try to respond.

A few things to note, in case you couldn't tell by the name of the blog. I am a HUGE Cincinnati Reds, Indianapolis Colts, and Purdue Boilermakers fan. You will likely see a lot of content related to those three teams. However, that will not be all that you see here, as I am just a big sports fan in general and typically have some sort of opinion about everything sports related.

I hope that you enjoy what I have to say, and that you will check back frequently. I will try to make some sort of posting everyday, but being a college student that can sometimes be difficult.

Thanks for checking out my blog and Boiler UP!