Sheldon, out. (for now)

I’m leaving camp before the end this spring because I have to get back to Cincinnati to tend to a family matter. I expect to be back on the beat by Opening Day. Before taking off, I wanted to thank everyone who has stopped by the blog and got me rolling. I’ve really enjoyed doing it and we will continue throughout the regular season. Thanks also for digesting the large volume of stories on MLB.com/Reds.com.

The keys to the Reds beat are now with Jonathan Mayo for the rest of spring and he will also kind be enough to keep this blog going. So please keep checking back.

Here’s a quick review:

Best development: The fifth starter battle between Micah Owings and Homer Bailey has been extremely strong. Whoever doesn’t get the role will be good to have for depth because it’s rare for a rotation to remain fully intact for a whole season.

Most troubling development: Francisco Cordero’s struggles. The rest of the Reds bullpen seems in good shape but the bridge from starter to closer would be for naught if Cordero doesn’t get it together before camp breaks.

Best new guy: Jonny Gomes has been fantastic from the start of camp and would take a complete collapse for the Reds to even consider not taking him north. Besides his right-handed bat, Gomes has a clubhouse presence and credibility that this young team will need as it forges its identity.

Still needs to happen: When catcher Ramon Hernandez returns from the World Baseball Classic, he will have to take a speed course to get comfortable with all of the Reds pitchers. Hernandez did what he could before leaving and he will get a less-than two week cramming session before camp breaks.

Still needs to happen II: Alex Gonzalez and his left knee have appeared to be healthy and continue to pass tests. Gonzalez still hasn’t played nine innings yet and he will need to show his knee can withstand that grind over multiple days.

Still needs to happen III: Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion need to get into a groove. Both haven’t done much at the plate to this point but both are starting to swing better.

What I will miss most: Siesta Key, the sunsets on the beach, watching baseball all day (even the drills), fantastic weather (most of the time), Solarzano’s Pizza, Five Guys Hamburgers, the Coach and Horses Pub, Mexican food at Mi Puebo and of course — Gus’ on 12th.

Before I go, a couple of predictions.

Number of wins in 2009: 80
NL Central finish: third

What do you think?

7 Comments

Thanks for all of your work this spring, Mark. You’ve become my first stop for inside Reds info and lineups. Hope all goes well, and I look forward to your posts during the regular season.

I agree with your prediction. I could see anywhere from 78-84 wins.

Mark – thanks for all that you did and I hope that all is well. See you when the season starts.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

thanks, mark. i enjoy the blog and look forward to your hopeful return in a couple weeks. take care. ps i think about 500 is a good guess for this club

Agree 100% with you. Good column Mark.
I also believe that this coming years will be a very long one for the reds and a bit more boaring than last year. Don’t see anything to make me think that there is an improving from last year.
As it was last year, every pitcher that goes against the Red’s looks like Sandy Koufax at his best.

Mark-
hope all is well with your family…

84 wins…

Keep up the great work, Mark. Look forward to having you back soon.

Chad — RN

Mark – I look forward to having you back on the beat come Opening Day. Best wishes to you and your family.Russhttp://wight4256.mlblogs.com

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