View from Spring Training: 2011 Cincinnati Reds

2011 Cincinnati Reds

NFL Equivalent – St. Louis Rams: Young, energetic franchises with marque star players in QB Sam Bradford for the Rams and 1B Joey Votto for the Reds.  Last season, following years of disappointment, the Reds made it to the first round of the 2010 MLB playoffs while the Rams missed the postseason by a single game. St. Louis and Cincinnati also sport relatively new stadiums however neither the Great American Ball Park or the Edward Jones Dome really distinguishes itself on TV.

Google Search: Why would a Chicago Cubs player poop on Dusty Baker’s spot in the dugout back when Dusty was enjoying his final days as manager of the Cubs?  I always thought Baker was popular with his players and did not figure him as the manager most likely to be victimized by a anonymous defecation.  Ozzie Guillen maybe but Dusty Baker? Complete shocker. In other offseason news, backup catcher Ryan Hanigan resigned with the Reds for 3 years/$4 million. I mention this not because Hanigan is an important part of Cincinnati’s catching corps, which he is, but because we were on the same summer ball team back in 2001. He was a 3B back then but became a catcher based on his strong arm and baseball sense. If you don’t remember me Ryan I was the guy shagging all your BP moonshots. Glad things have worked out for.

Famous Movie Quote:

Michael Corleone: I saw a strange thing today. Some rebels were being arrested. One of them pulled the pin on a grenade. He took himself and the captain of the command with him. Now, soldiers are paid to fight; the rebels aren’t.

Hyman Roth: What does that tell you?

Michael Corleone: It means they could win.

from The Godfather Part: II

This famous quote from the best movie sequel of all time (apologies to Terminator 2: Judgemet Day, Empire Strikes Back, and Staying Alive) applies to the 2011 Cincinnati Reds in many ways. For starters, this is a hungry team that has the ability and, after last season, the experience to make a run deep into the playoffs. Secondly, the most prized prospect in the Reds organization, Aroldis Chapman, is a Cuban import. All I know about Chapman is that he can throw the ball 105 mph and is either the next Stephen Strasburg – minus the Tommy John surgery – or Joba Chamberlain – minus the 150 lbs. 2011 prediction 88-74, 2nd place NL Central

view from Goodyear Ballpark courtesy of @VeroPadilla34

View from Spring Training: 2011 San Diego Padres

2011 San Diego Padres

NFL Equivalent – Jacksonville Jaguars: I really don’t like doing this to Padres fans whose history with their franchise dates way back to 1969, however, in recent years both Petco Park in San Diego and EverBank Field in Jacksonville have become relative ghost towns with swaths of empty seats and eerie echoes cascading off of low expectations and struggling local economies. Sure each team has had their fair share of recent success but, certainly with the case of the Jags, the top story always seems to be if and when the team will relocate to Los Angeles. Now, the Padres, with their new, beautiful stadium, are in no jeopardy of leaving San Diego, but with a very modest payroll the franchise will struggle to keep up with the deeper pockets of San Francisco and LA.

Google Search: It must have been so incredibly disheartening to the San Diego community when the Padres traded their star first baseman to the Boston Red Sox for three highly touted prospects including minor league P Casey Kelley. Gonzalez was born in San Diego and as a Mexican American ballplayer seemed to embody the diverse cultural background of his hometown and sport. With the move to Boston, Gonzalez becomes just the latest in a long line of high powered assassins to join the ranks of the MLB high payroll elites while San Diego must fill the void with the likes of Brad Hawpe and Jorge Cantu.

Famous Movie Quote: Well, I could be wrong, but I believe diversity is an old, old wooden ship that was used during the Civil War era. – Ron Burgundy from Anchorman

Using another Anchorman quote here was predictable I know, but sometimes life and culture is just so blissfully obvious. Diversity, as it applies to the NL West, is alive and well. All five teams have either won the division or made the playoffs at least once in the last ten years. I would expect that trend to continue in future years but in 2011, when the music stops, the San Diego Padres will be left without a chair. 2011 prediction: 74-88, 4th place NL West

view from the Goodyear Ballpark courtesy of @hunyfour