In just over a month, pitchers and catchers will report to Arizona for spring training. This ST is going to be one of particular intrigue for the boys from Brew City. Can Mat Gamel be the everyday 1st baseman? Will Ryan Braun be out of the picture for the first two months of ths season? Is that starting rotation going to perform at the same level they did last season? Will we be able to defend our NL Central crown without Prince Fielder?
That is the biggest question of all. Can the Brewers win back to back division titles? With the departure of Pujols, the Cardinals become less threatening to me. The Astros, Cubs, and Pirates will show signs of life but in the end their youth will be their undoing. That leaves the Brewers and the Cincinnati Reds. Even without Fielder, I think the Brewers will be able to produce enough runs to be competitive. If the pitching staff can duplicate the 2011 season, the Brewers will be tough to beat.
Then you look at the moves that the Reds have made this off-season… The Brewers are going to have a hard time matching up with the new and improved Cincy Rojo’s.
New Faces in a Familiar Place:
Mat Latos – The Reds went out and made a Greinke-like deal, by acquiring the Padres young superstar. Latos was so important to the Reds that they gave up: Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Edinson Volquez and Brad Boxberger (all very good young players). While in San Diego, Latos pitched in 72 games. This young right-hander just turned 24 years old and is under Reds control for the next four season. Latos is no joke, the guy already has 413 career strikeouts in only 3 major league seasons.
By Pairing Latos with Johnny Cueto, the Reds have a 1-2 rotation punch that rivals the Brewers Gallardo and Greinke. The Reds needed to get that top of the rotation pitcher. Cueto is a very good pitcher, but he is not a staff ace. Mat Latos has only made two career starts against the Brewers, he is 0-2. In his defense, the Padres provided 1 run of offense in those games.
Sean Marshall – We all know Sean from his days on the Chicago Cubs. The Reds went out and acquired this master of the bullpenic arts, to sure up their very questionable bullpen. Marshall is a very durable pitcher. It seemed like whenever the Brewers and Cubs had a series, Marshall pitched in every last game. He is a very nice arm to have at your disposal.
Over the last 2 seasons, he ranks second amongst Major League pitchers with 158 appearances. Among all big league relievers during that same stretch, he ranks second with a 2.45 ERA and fifth with 150.1 innings pitched and 169 strikeouts. Sean Marshall has a career 2.67 ERA in 233 career relief appearances. No doubt that Marshall will be used in a set-up role. That’s where our 3rd guest comes in…
Ryan Madson – One of the top closers on the free-agent market, Madson is the most recent addition to the Reds championship puzzle. After some botched contract negotiations between Madson’s agent, resident RtB Satan Scott Boras, and the Phillies, the Reds swooped in and scooped up the hard throwing right-hander for a very reasonable one year deal. The Reds needed to replace the aging, and very hittable, Francisco Coredero. Madson is a huge upgrade.
Last season, in his first full year as the Phillies closer, Madson was 4-2 with a 2.37 ERA and 32 saves in 34 chances. The Phillies used Madson in every possible role that a pitcher can be. Madson started 17 games in 2006 and went 11-9. That is not totally relevant, since Madson will be the closer…just thought it was kind of intersting.
This off-season was very busy for the Reds. It is clear to me that they have a “Win Now” mentality, based on the impending free-agency of Joey Votto which looms large after the 2013 season. The Reds are using a similar formula to the one the Brewers employed to win the NL Central title away from the. Get better starting pitching and make sure you have the bullpen to back them up.
Add those three guys to; Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman, and Jay Bruce. All of a sudden you have a Reds team that is much stronger than the team that won the Central in 2010. In my opinion the Cardinals will be out of the picture in 2012, but the Reds will strike back in a big way.
I am officially putting Brew Crew Nation on notice. We can not take the Reds lightly. They have gone out and repaired their armor.
So, while the rivalry with the Cardinals was renewed in a big way last season, let’s pound the Reds. If we destroy them, then there can be no rivalry. It’s physics.