Getting ready for Goodyear

So Spring Training is right around the corner and I have a seven-week stay at Arizona staring me in the face. And I’ve packed….absolutely nothing.

I’ve always been good at getting it done the last minute. I’ll be headed out to Goodyear over the weekend and begin reporting next week from the Reds complex. While I stink at packing, I am already starting to compile story ideas for camp — and I certainly welcome your suggestions. Feel free to comment below and add your thoughts about what you might want to see reported from Goodyear.

But the story I expect you’ll read most about from me is the situation with the rotation. The battle for the last two spots should be super competitive. You have Homer Bailey, Travis Wood and Mike Leake leading the battle and Sam LeCure and Matt Maloney should get some chances too.

*Complicating the issue is that Bailey is out of options. The club can’t send him down. If he doesn’t make the rotation, the only avenues the Reds really have is to put Bailey in the bullpen or try to trade him. He is only 24 and seems to be on the brink of turning the corner. Bailey can erase any thoughts of a tough decision by having a great spring. It would take all the debate away.

*I know it was suggested out there recently that Leake or Wood could wind up in the bullpen if they fail to make the rotation. The notion of Leake and Wood — two of the organization’s top pitching prospects  — being the 12th pitcher on the staff and a long man in the bullpen seems just silly to me. You don’t waste their long term development by making them pitch mop-up games or emergency long relief. Leake can hit well, sure, but his bat isn’t his future. His arm is and he’ll need innings. (Micah Owings’ bat didn’t make much of a difference last season as he went 3-for-14 with one homer when he was the long guy.) If one or both of these guys don’t make the rotation, then they should be starting at Triple-A Louisville.

*Over at shortstop, Paul Janish has the role as the regular coming in but he knows he should still view it as it being his job to lose. Janish needs to have a good camp to cement his place and I predict that he will. He knows what is at stake and Edgar Renteria will be more than happy to take those at-bats.

*The last spots for the bench should be a tight battle. You have Chris Heisey, Juan Francisco, Jeremy Hermida among others. If the right-handed hitting Heisey has a good camp, his outfield versatility should get him a roster spot. But they will need a left-handed hitter to join Fred Lewis. If Lewis is starting in left field, there are no lefties on the bench. Hermida would seem to fit that Laynce Nix role well as a veteran but Francisco would be an enticing option. However, his development isn’t helped either by sitting on a bench and pinch-hitting.

Some other news and notes:

*The Reds truck arrived in Goodyear today on schedule.

*Fox Sports Ohio announced it was televising four Reds Cactus League games. Here is the schedule:

Monday   3/7 3pm EST vs. Milwaukee 
Saturday 3/12 4pm EST @ Chicago Cubs in Las Vegas 
Thursday 3/17 4pm EST vs. Cleveland 
Thursday 3/24 4pm EST vs. Texas 

Barring any other developments in the meantime, I will be live from Goodyear next week.

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If Francisco keeps playing well this spring I think the Reds should give him a decent amount of time at third base this season. For one thing, it will help Rolen stay fresh for the second half and post season. He really tailed off last season in the second half, especially as far as power goes. He was non exisistant in the post season. Had he continued his first half pace he would have been in the MVP discussion. With a regular third baseman to give him some down time I think Rolen can be a huge help for the Reds down the stretch this year. This would also get Francisco prepared to take over eventually as the regular third baseman.

Marcus, I can’t remember ever feeling this excited about Reds spring training! Part of it is the weather this winter, the rest is the apparent talent overload coming to camp.

I have a couple of questions:

1. If Bailey or Leake is the #5 starter, does that give the Reds an all-righthanded rotation again? And does that matter?
2. I can never remember the #2 pick from Leake’s draft. Another pitcher. Is he working his way up the the minors?
3. Devon Mesoraco. Is it safe not having him on the 40-man roster? (An article in last Sunday’s Enquirer made it seem like he wasn’t). Any chance he’ll see significant GABP time this year?

Thanks – I look forward to your coverage. Not sure I’d want seven weeks in Arizona, but I’ll be envying you the first two, at least.


@maxblue — Mesoraco doesn’t have enough years to require protection on 40-man roster. He’s fine but probably needs a near-full season at AAA. If something happens to Hanigan/Hernandez, Miller would be likely first choice but Mesoraco can put himself in good position with another great year. And the No. 2 pick you asked about was RHP Brad Boxberger and he split 2010 in high-A and AA. And no, doesn’t matter to club if rotation is all RHP but I think it’d be good to mix it up some with a lefty.

Thanks, Mark. Good info.

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