Checking out the NL Central
As you may have noticed today, all of the MLB.com reporters have Spring Training preview stories running today. That would, of course, include one from yours truly. But the Reds won’t be competing in a vacuum and for one more season, have five other clubs to contend with in the NL Central race. (Houston moves to the AL West in 2013).
So without further adieu, here are links to the division rivals’ Spring Training previews…in the order of predicted finish that I posted on Friday.
Cardinals, Jenifer Langosch: Departures won’t minimize Cards title defense
Reds, Mark Sheldon: New-look Reds ready to roll in NL Central
Brewers, Adam McCalvy: Milwaukee goes for championship in all-in year
Pirates, Tom Singer: Bucs ready to finish what they started in 2011
Cubs, Carrie Muskat: Cubs not in rebuilding mode despite wealth of changes
Astros, Brian McTaggart: Competition the theme of spring for Astros
*The Reds could use some improved results within the division but were a winning team in this area. Last season, they were 42-37 vs. NL Central clubs. The killer was the Pirates, against whom they were 5-10. They were .500 or better vs. the other five clubs which included an 8-8 mark vs. Milwaukee and 9-6 against St. Louis. The biggest problems were actually vs. NL East clubs (13-20) and Interleague play against AL teams (6-12).
*Talking TV: The Friday USA Today story about television revenue helping small market clubs was quite interesting. Of course, it spawns thoughts of a potential new Reds TV network or contract being a boon. And I really liked some of the suggested Reds programming titles I saw on Twitter. I know the Reds get great ratings locally on FS Ohio but starting a new team-oriented network like YES or NESN is easier said than done. I lived through a spectacular failure on the Twins part to start their own regional sports network and the Royals also had a short-lived venture for a couple of seasons. With Minnesota, it all came down to carriers. No major cable or satellite company were willing to carry what the club called Victory Sports One as the sides haggled over carriage fees. The bottom line was no one in the Twin Cities could see Twins games and there was a lot of controversy. Victory folded about six weeks into the 2004 season and the Twins went back to Fox Sports North, albeit at a better rate than before. I am not saying that would happen to the Reds, but one thing I always seem to read about with new channels — sports or otherwise – is the issue in getting placed on the major carriers channel lineup.