2013 Reds

State of the (Redleg) Nation

The state of the Nation is strong.  For now.  Will it stay that way?

No, I’m not talking about the team. The Redlegs are in tall clover right now. Out of town tryouts in Arizona are underway for the team that won 97 last year. Leading roles have been cast. Understudies will be determined during the next seven weeks of rehearsals leading up to Opening Night Day on Broadway J. Nuxhall Way. If you’re savvy and look closely, you’ll see one very significant addition to this year’s uniform: a chip affixed to the shoulder of every home and road jersey, thanks to last season’s playoff collapse. That should help. Every team could ask for more, but this year’s club has all anyone has a right to ask for in February.

Amirite?

No, I’m talking about the Nation. Us. The fans. Are we ready for this? Can we handle the, uh, you know, expectations? Not just those of the media, which are already huge, but more importantly, our own?

It only takes a long look down the street to see how things can go awry. Midway through the season, when the Bengals were slogging along with a 4 game losing streak, Andy Dalton’s arm became suspect. By season’s end, the offensive coordinator had suddenly become a dope. A playoff game was still warm when Lance McCalister took to Twitter to lay snark on the OC, wondering if the Eagles’ interview should include questioning Gruden’s commitment to getting the ball to DeShawn Jackson. We couldn’t get Bob Bratkowski out of town fast enough a couple of years ago. Now Gruden—a newly-minted golden boy–dubbed by the media as the smarter of the two Gruden brothers—must wear the Stupid Hat.

We love to devour our own when things take a left turn, don’t we? It’s as omnipresent at every game as wings and Yuenglings. Even the unimpeachable among us are not immune. I’m convinced the reason Marty Brennaman is so darn hard on young Jay Bruce is tied to the very fact that he sees him every day for six months each year and has decided the callow Bruce isn’t living up to expectations. It’s as plain as the hair on Mar….

…well, you get the idea.

So, let’s look it straight in the eye and just acknowledge this fact:  2013 is the Year of Expectations for Baseball in Cincinnati. Or put another way, the club is one collective Jay Bruce and the fan base is looking down from on high, ready to pounce on every shortcoming.  We want it so badly.

ex·pec·ta·tion

1: the act or state of expecting
c : prospects of inheritance

Inheritance.  Like family members sitting around waiting for the reading of the will, we won’t be happy if we fail to get what we believe belongs to us. And don’t we all believe a World Series appearance is due us? Be honest. It’s going on 23 years, for cryin out loud.  A lot of years in the wilderness, hanging out with the likes of Eric Milton and Elmer Dessens. It wears on a body. We want it so badly.

Long before I read John Erardi’s fine piece on Aroldis Chapman and his nascent career as a starting pitcher, I was already wondering what the over/under would be on poor starts by Mr. 106 before a segment of the fan base would be screaming I TOLD YOU SO.  When it was announced that the Reds had re-signed Logan Ondrusek, you would have thought Walt Jocketty had offered Chris Carpenter a multi-year deal to wear the Crescent C and made him captain to boot. A fair portion of the Reds’ fan base has given Ondrusek the Fredo treatment. He’s dead to them. Ditto for Massett, whose rehab still doesn’t include throwing off a mound as of yet. Never mind that both have been dominating at times for the Reds. Never mind that peripherals can’t possibly determine a relief pitcher’s true worth now or going forward. Never mind that we might need these guys somewhere along the road to October. We’ve already marked these guys down as losers who have little to nothing to offer the 2013 Reds.

Will we give Homer a chance to find a groove, or will we announce the return of Head Case Homer after a slow April? Will we allow Chapman to find his way as a starter?  Or will we demand Big Unit-like results straight out of the gate?  I can’t wait until the putative MVP of the club goes hitless for a couple of days.  It will be all about The Knee. Redleg Nation knows the Club has a habit of coming out of the gate a little slow. Is that acceptable this year? The schedule probably gets tougher, since we won’t have those cardboard cutouts masquerading as a baseball team–the Astros–here to kick around. So how will we, the smartest fans in Baseball, handle this?

We’re strong, Nation.  Can we stay that way? Cause if we’re honest, we must admit…

We want it so badly this time around.

 

41 thoughts on “State of the (Redleg) Nation

  1. I think we are ready. . . Sure, there will be ups and downs and hyperbole and overreaction. However, I believe that most folks understand that it is a looooooong season and the best teams typically end up in the postseason. I only have three concerns:

    1. health;
    2. health;
    3. health.

    So long as the Redlegs remain relatively healthy, I will not have to lock myself in a padded room. If they are ravaged by injuries, off to the rubber room I go.

  2. Right, right, and right. They were largely healthy last year (especially the rotation) and won 97. It was mainly Cueto and Votto’s injuries (and D. Baker’s predictability) that got them bounced. Then again, they lost in 5 to the team that won the Series, and I’m still not convinced the Reds weren’t better than the Giants. The trick is, the regular season no longer matters. I think they must win at least a pennant, or the season would be considered failure.

  3. Are we ready for this? To quote the punch line of a joke I don’t actually remember:

    Some are, and some aren’t. The vast majorty of people here are grownups who know how to discuss and disagree without getting stupid about it. That’s why this is such a cool place to hang.

    But there will always be some.

    I will strive not to rise to obvious bait, ignore obvious trolls, and always be reasonable. And I will stay as positive as I can. Inevitably, I will fail a few times. But I will try my best.

    I can’t wait to get started!

    • @RC:

      I can’t wait to get started!

      But we are started, my good RC. Full squad reports tomorrow. Opening day tickets are in hand along with opening night tickets. I’ve started planning our day-long activities on April 1st to start with a breakfast of fried eggs and goetta before packing up for the drive to Cincinnati. We’ll get lunch at Skyline before the parade. I’m hoping (certainly expecting) the HoF will be open to help fill the gaps in time before the game. After losing my voice while cheering on a resounding Reds victory, while Votto proved to the world, including Pujols, Trout and Hamilton, who is the best and most feared hitter in MLB, we will make a detour off I-71 for a slab of ribs in Montgomery before heading home after a great kickoff to the 2013 season. My only regret is that I will be driving to and from so my libations will be limited to coffee and water.

      Do we have unreasonably high expectations here at the Nation? Spittuie to such balderdash. I expect no less than (3) 20-game winners with a CY award among those starters; an MVP and GG @ 1B; a GG and SS @ 2B; a SS for at least one of the outfielders; a GG @ SS; win the NLCD by 12+ games; sweep the NLDS; sweep the NLCS; win the WS in 6. If the Reds don’t fulfill these expecations, they will answer to The Cossack! Do not dare lose a series during the regular season, but a few split series will be permitted. This is Cincinnati Reds Baseball. We have been down and many labelled us as out, but that was BC (Before Castellini). The Cincinnati Reds are back and this is the year they rise to the top of the baseball world and show the world what a well run MLB organization can do in a small market.

  4. The actually State of the Union always comes with a response by the opposing party. Shouldn’t we get a Cardinals fan in to provide such an opposing viewpoint?

    • redsfanman

      I hear Chris Carpenter is available.

      I hear Chris Carpenter is still getting paid ~$12m for 2013, even though he can’t pitch. I think we should find somebody less expensive to provide a response to the State of the Nation.

  5. I will certainly stay positive throughout what will be an adjustment period for the Reds early in the year. How many balls did Bruce and any LFer concede to Stubbs? A new centerfielder will take some time for all to adjust. I believe! there will be a number of streaks with the Reds winning 6,8,10 games in a row due to the pitching staff. Imagine beginning a series with Chapman, Cueto, then Latos huge potential. Will the toothpick find the right combinations to make it go? Two years ago, Cueto took a huge step forward and last year Bailey did the same thing. Who will be this year’s player to really step up? I personally believe! Jay Bruce will kill it this year. Imagine the two best left handed hitters in the game on the same team- OUR team. OK hyperbole but it sounds good

    • I will certainly stay positive throughout what will be an adjustment period for the Reds early in the year.How many balls did Bruce and any LFer concede to Stubbs?A new centerfielder will take some time for all to adjust.I believe! there will be a number of streaks with the Reds winning 6,8,10 games in a row due to the pitching staff.Imagine beginning a series with Chapman, Cueto, then Latos huge potential.Will the toothpick find the right combinations to make it go?Two years ago, Cueto took a huge step forward and last year Bailey did the same thing.Who will be this year’s player to really step up?I personally believe! Jay Bruce will kill it this year.Imagine the two best left handed hitters in the game on the same team- OUR team.OK hyperbole but it sounds good

      If Shin-Shoo Choo hits like he’s capable of (~.280 average, ~.380 OBP) I think most people will be content to forgive or ignore any defensive problems on his part in CF.

      Remember Edinson Volquez’s great 2008 season? It turned out to be a fluke. I think that for the Reds’ starters showing that their success wasn’t a fluke is a big deal.

      Personally I think Cueto took a bigger step forward in 2012 than in 2011. Sure he pitched great after returning from the DL in 2011 but I thought it was a matter of small sample size, something he couldn’t keep up for 200+ innings, and I thought he would revert like Edinson Volquez. In 2012 he proved that 2011 wasn’t any fluke, he was for real, and he could keep it up for a full season. That’s something to be excited about.

      Bailey just had a breakout season after years of struggling with ineffectiveness and injuries. I think 2013 will be key for determining if 2012 was a fluke (like Volquez) or if he’s turned a corner (like Cueto).

      Players to step up in 2013?
      -Tony Cingrani, I think he is a top candidate, even though he’s unlikely to make the opening day roster.
      -Devin Mesoraco, he has a lot of talent but extremely low expectations on him.
      -Mike Leake, he’s played three professional seasons with a winning record (28-22) and he also has very low expectations being placed upon him now. Leake put up a 3.86 ERA in 2011, not much worse than Bailey’s 3.68 ERA in his 2012 ‘breakout’ season – Leake probably won’t rack up Bailey’s strikeout totals but he exceeded Bailey in ERA and wins as recently as 2011. Dusty said in an interview that he introduced Leake to Greg Maddux over the winter, maybe Maddux helped.

  6. “Never mind that peripherals can’t possibly determine a relief pitcher’s true worth now or going forward.”

    Yes, Reds fans who worry about pitchers that have bad peripherals are idiots.

    • Anyone else see that Cairo has joined the Reds front office as a special assistant to Jocketty?

      http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/cincinnati_reds/index.html

      Yeah, I really like that move. I’m a fan of having a solid mix of rookies and veterans in the front office, just like on the field. The rookies have that close connection with the current players, while the veterans have that experience and weight to their words.

      I hope Rolen would be interested in this too, but I don’t see why he wouldn’t choose the Phillies or Cardinals over the Reds besides the proximity to his home in Indiana.

      Question of the day: If (BIG “if”) Rolen goes to the HOF, which cap will he wear?

      • Question of the day: If (BIG “if”) Rolen goes to the HOF, which cap will he wear?

        Yes, that is a big if, but really don’t know.

        He was drafted and played the most years in Phillie and had the overall best years of his career there with the exception of his monster year in St. Louis. Seems he could choose either Phillie or St. Louis. The choice is his. Who does he dislike the least?

    • Just read that over/under on the Reds for wins this year is 88.5 (3rd in the NL, 5th overall). Think they’ll be over or under that?

      I think that’s probably a pretty good number, but the fan in me says you gotta take the over.

    • Just read that over/under on the Reds for wins this year is 88.5 (3rd in the NL, 5th overall). Think they’ll be over or under that?

      Still stick with my very good 87 wins. (Arbitrary, but I picked 10 games less than last year.)

  7. @RiverCity Redleg: Redleg Nation pools it’s money for a monster bet on the over. Isn’t there someone named “Vegastypo” out there that can be our agent? Not that this site advocates gambling or anything. :)

    • @RiverCity Redleg: Redleg Nation pools it’s money for a monster bet on the over. Isn’t there someone named “Vegastypo” out there that can be our agent? Not that this site advocates gambling or anything.

      Somebody call me? Yes, there is, although I’ve been posting lately using my real name, not as vegastypo. I’m a few hours from Vegas these days but we have family living there…. I’d like to say take the over for number of wins, but not sure that’s as much from the head as from the heart.

  8. I grew up in Redskins territory where that team is revered and adored. I was shocked by how badly fans here treated their local team’s players when I moved to Cincinnati in ’96. RLN fans are a lot better, but the average fan drives me insane.

    • I grew up in Redskins territory where that team is revered and adored.I was shocked by how badly fans here treated their local team’s players when I moved to Cincinnati in ’96.RLN fans are a lot better, but the average fan drives me insane.

      During the season I enjoy listening to the 700WLW Reds coverage – usually the pregame stuff – on the radio on the way home from work. It is crazy how negative they always are – both the broadcasters and callers – even with the team in first place. No matter how many games ahead the Reds are in the division you’d think they were in last place by listening to the coverage. I don’t know where else you could expect to hear calls for the manager of a first place team to be fired.

  9. “Redleg Nation knows the Club has a habit of coming out of the gate a little slow. Is that acceptable this year? ”

    If memory serves me well, the last Reds World Series team came “red” hot out of the gate and never looked back, something like 13 wins in a row. Might be something said about getting off to a good start.

    I would love to see a stat somewhere that could find a correlation one way or the other of the impact of a good start to the season…

    Maybe one of you can verify this, but I think 1990 Reds might be one of the only teams to ever go wire to wire in first place…

  10. “the prospects of inheritance”. You sure nailed it there, Richard. Yeah, winning it all is the ultimate reward, but like raising kids, there’s this little thing called life that happens while you’re waiting to see how it all shakes out. We need to be mindful of our place in the baseball landscape. There are fan bases for 25 teams out there who would trade places with us in a heartbeat to avoid the day-in day-out torture that a .500 or below team can visit upon a man. Heck, I remember the abject misery around these parts many years ago now. That version of me would be the first to say STFU to any perceived whining from fans of a winning franchise.

    Ultimately, it’s up to us to decide how we define success and failure. Let’s face it, a championship is an extremely narrow view of success given the length of the season and the random nature of a tournament-style playoff system with play-in games and weird schedules. While I don’t think there’s a poster here that doesn’t believe we were good enough to win the Series last year, it seems like we’re torn as to whether we should fully embrace this idea that we’re the baddest kids on the block. I live in the Chicago area, and beleive me, I’m 100% on board………..just ask any of my Cub fan friends.

  11. The player does not get to choose which hat, or logo, anymore. Although they have input, the HOF makes the choice now.
    “In 2001, the Hall of Fame decided to change the policy on cap logo selection, as a result of rumors that some teams were offering compensation, such as number retirement, money, or organizational jobs, in exchange for the cap designation. (For example, though Wade Boggs denied the claims, some media reports had said that his contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays required him to request depiction in the Hall of Fame as a Devil Ray.) The Hall decided that it would no longer defer to the inductee, though the player’s wishes would be considered, when deciding on the logo to appear on the plaque. ”
    It seems that the HOF chooses which team that player had the most success with.

  12. Talking about slow starts. Just look at the Reds schedule for 2013. A little tougher than I had imagined. The Reds face a brutal April and have a tough interleague schedule. The Cards face the Astros 4 times and the Royals 4 times in interleague play. The Reds play those two teams a total of 0 times. In April (including May 1) the Reds have games against LA Angels-3, Wash-7, Cards-6, Pit-3, Phil-3, Mia-3, and ChiC-3. If the Reds get thru May 1 with at least a .500 record, I think things will be OK.

  13. You do good work, Richard. The Nation is strong. Younger brother and I may go see Billy Hamilton in Louisville if he lands there with the Riverbats. Loved seeing him at Reds Caravan, along with Todd Frazier.

    I guess the whole crew is in Goodyear now. There will be excessive whining over every loss and roster move because that is the atmosphere of over emotional social media.A hangnail is a life crisis these days.Amirite :)

  14. I agree with every single word of Erardi’s piece on Chapman. So nice to see someone call out the fraud that is the “closer.”

    And we are going to the World Series this season.

  15. So TC, you really are saying that we win 107 games this year? I can live with that….. :>)

    “Still stick with my very good 87 wins. (Arbitrary, but I picked 10 games less than last year.)”

    I also agree with the article:

    “Everybody knows this Reds season is going to be a failure if the team doesn’t make it at least to the second round of the playoffs.”

  16. The predictors rarely mention the Reds. Instead they center on the Braves, Giants and Nationals. That’s ok. All the Reds have to do is win.

  17. @BGK: Thank you, Kat. I love that little ballpark in the Ville. Hamilton will be there before you know it.

  18. If we would like to get together for a RL Nation Nite at a Reds home game, here are the Friday night home games. All start at 7:10pm I am fairly certain.
    Apr 5–Nats
    Apr 19-Marlins
    May 10-Brewers
    May 24-Cubbies
    Jun 7–Cards
    Jun 14-Brewers
    Jul 5–Mariners
    Jul 19-Buccos
    Aug 2–Cards
    Aug 9–Padres
    Aug 23-Brewers
    Sep 6–Dodgers
    Sep 27-Buccos
    Fireworks after the game.

  19. @WVRedlegs: It might be nice to choose a game with relatively low attendance, which might rule out the Nationals and Cardinals. Marlins on April 19th seems appealing to me.

  20. IMO, you can thank the internet, from which we all so proudly hail, for the polarization of opinions these days. There were always negative people grousing around, but as more and more of them get online, they find each other, reinforce each other, and generally get each other and everyone else all het up about stuff. It’s so much easier for negativity to become a force now than it used to be.

    This also explains politics.

    • IMO, you can thank the internet, from which we all so proudly hail, for the polarization of opinions these days.There were always negative people grousing around, but as more and more of them get online, they find each other, reinforce each other, and generally get each other and everyone else all het up about stuff.It’s so much easier for negativity to become a force now than it used to be.

      This also explains politics.

      Exactly. Except it’s not just the internet, broadcasting might be even more important. 700WLW broadcasters might seem credible (unlike angry people posting online) but they want callers, which involves polarizing fans. I listen to 700WLW everyday during the season when I drive home from work but I have never wanted to call in – they know the people who call in are the ones who perceive big problems with the team. If Dusty Baker does a great job, what’s there to talk about?

      Politics have FoxNews and MSNBC for conservative and liberal TV viewers, respectively, in each case they take the biased opinion which will get the most viewers, even if it makes lots of people angry or terrified for their lives. It’s not a matter of a manager hurting your favorite team, they’re trying to convince you that a political party is out to kill you unless you listen. It’s fascinating.

      Politics can be really entertaining in the offseason. It might not be a sport but it’s still a game.

  21. Anyone else see Richard Justice’s article on MLB.com about Ludwick getting his swing back and crediting Jacoby for it? I did a total double take on that point.

    Quoting from the article:
    Jocketty and the Reds got everything they could have hoped for, and then some. Thanks to plenty of help from Reds hitting coach Brook Jacoby, Ludwick rediscovered both his swing and his confidence and produced a 26-homer, 28-double, .877-OPS season.

    “I think I just got back to hitting the ball the other way better,” Ludwick said. “I think it was all mental. You see that big right-center gap in Petco [Park], and that’s my best bolt. I just got so pull dominant. Me and Jacoby got together, and he looked at some film and said, `We’ve got to get you back grooving [the other] way.’ He said, `I don’t mind if you pull the ball, but we’ve got to have your approach to where you can hit the ball [the other] way.’ We did it.”

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