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.

5 Comments

Didn’t Jenifer Langosch follow the Pirates last year?

Spring training advent calendar picture of the day: Reds truck pukking into the complex in Goodyear. The contents include 900 dozen baseballs. They go straight to the clubhouse so the ballboys and assistant trainers can practice reproducing Brandon Phillip’s, Joey Votto’s and Bronson Arroyo’s autographs.

Jenifer covered the Pirates the past several seasons. But she moved over to Cardinals beat when our reporter there, Matthew Leach, was promoted.

Always comes down to $$$, doesn’t it, Mark? With the contracts of Phillips and Votto now in the spotlight, this (additional TV revenues) will, obviously, impact the outcomes in those two (important) cases. Good luck to the club in making the right decision.

Five days to go. SPring training advent calendar picture of the day: Goodyear complex groundscrew mowing and striping under the warm Arizona sunshine.

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