Thursday, February 21, 2013

Boomer Report: Reds & Indians Spring Training Preview

For the 4th spring together, the Reds & Indians, share
Goodyear Ballpark for spring training.
One of these years, I plan on heading out west for spring training and checking out Goodyear Ballpark, where both the Cincinnati Reds & Cleveland Indians have their spring training. For now, I guess I'll have to do my spring training preview from the chilly confines of the great state of OH-IO!

Things get under way for both teams, tomorrow (Feb. 22nd) as they face-off against each other, for a three-game series over the weekend. Both teams then will complete their spring training schedule of 36-games! (I've always thought that was a lot of games), mix that in with just a couple off days, a few double headers, and hopefully a good bill of health, should provide each fan base with an idea of what the two team's will look like heading into the 2013 season. First off the Reds...

Cincinnati Reds 2013 Spring Training Preview:

The Reds head into the 2013 season, with one goal in mind....WIN IN OCTOBER! With that said, a solid spring training will be the first step in the right direction, to achieve that goal. The roster has basically stayed in place over this off-season, with the additions of OF Shin-Soo Choo, IF's Jack Hannahan and Josh Donald from the Indians. The Reds have moved on without veteran 3B Scott Rolen, who was not invited to spring training. Another key move that came from within the organization, was the decision to move Aroldis Chapman from the bullpen to the starting rotation. If Chapman, can continue to pitch from the starting rotation, like he has the past three season coming out of the 'pen LOOK OUT. On paper, this team is locked and loaded for another successful season in 2013, as they look to put together back-to-back 90+ win seasons (97 W's in 2012), and capture the NL Central crown, for the third time in the past four seasons. 

Projected Starting Rotation: Cueto, Arroyo, Latos, Chapman, Bailey *in no particular order*
  • This rotation (with SP Mike Leake) didn't miss a single start in 2012, then Game 1 of the NLDS came along and Cueto was lost for the rest of the postseason (back injury). Staying healthy, and pitching with some consistency are the two biggest concerns/questions for these guys. In 2012, all of them had dominate stretches at some point in the season, and to repeat the same results in 2013, much is expected from this starting rotation. This pitching staff finished 4th in the MLB, in team ERA at 3.34. I see, the possibility of a 20-win season from one of these guys, as well as, a couple of them around the 14-17 win mark, which would be huge. Hopefully Chapman can last an entire season in the starting rotation, if not Mike Leake will be waiting in the wings, as he tries to revert back to his 2010 campaign. If the starters can give the Reds quality starts, the bullpen is set up as, one of the best unit's in the National League, with plenty of depth for late inning situations. 
Projected Starting Line-up: Ludwick (LF), Choo (CF), Bruce (RF), Frazier (3B), Cozart (SS), Phillips (2B), Votto (1B), and Hanigan (C)
  • The pitching staff carried this unit, which I think had an up and down 2012 season. Big things are expected from this line-up, as they finished 21st (669) in the MLB with runs scored a season ago. Biggest concern/question is Votto's health, as he wasn't close to being the power hitter, he was following mid-season knee surgery in 2012. If Votto can return to form, look out as he will potentially have some speedy base-runners in front of him in Choo and Cozart/Phillips. Bruce will try and repeat his 2012 performance in which he hit 34 HR's and knocked in 99 runs. Frazier takes over the full-time duties at the hot corner from veteran Scott Rolen, and is expected to be even better then he was in his rookie campaign, in which he finished in the Top 3 in NL Rookie of the Year voting. Cozart and Phillips will no doubt contribute a number of SC Top 10 plays in the middle of the infield this summer. Big expectations from this line-up, that have some very solid pieces on the bench, ready for spot time in IF Hannahan and Donald, and OF Heisey. 
Cleveland Indians 2013 Spring Training Preview:

Heading into spring training, this team is one, that many people will have their eyes on, with all the noise they made in off-season signings/trades. Big names like Swisher, Bourn, Reynolds, Dice-K, and Giambi will be a part of turning this franchise back around, with new skipper Francona. Following disappointing finishes to the '11 & '12 seasons, the Tribe look to put together a solid 162-game stretch this season. With the addition of the new faces, the Tribe also have some regulars from the past back for another season, in guys like Santana, Cabrera, Brantley, and Kipnis. Starting pitching is probably the biggest concern/question, as the Tribe will rely on top end pitchers Masterson & Jimenez, while they try to piece together the rest of the starting rotation. Like the Reds, the Indians have a solid bullpen, with shutdown guys in the late innings. Here's hoping, with a new looking franchise, that they can compete in the AL Central, along side the Detroit Tigers & Chicago White Sox.

Projected Starting Rotation: Masterson, Jimenez, Myers, ???, ??? *in no particular order*
  • A lot will be learned in spring training with this rotation and the direction Francona will take them. At this point, Masterson, Jimenez, and Myers are for sure guys in the rotation, where the final two spots are up for grabs between a number of guys that will be on showcase in spring training. It is critical, for the Indians to get some quality starts out of the guys they give the ball to every fifth day, if they want to have a successful season in 2013. Questions/concerns will be answered over the next month, to determine where the Tribe are at with dealing with putting together a solid starting rotation.
Projected Starting Line-up: Brantley (LF), Bourn (CF), Stubbs (RF), Chisenhall (3B), Cabrera (SS), Kipnis (2B), Swisher (1B), Reynolds (DH), Santana (C)
  • Speed and Power. Two qualities that this line-up presents. The concern is if they can hit the ball to use that speed and power, as this line-up finished 18th in MLB with a .251 BA. This outfield will be one of the fastest in the major's, as each guy has spent some time in center field over the years. Bourn and Stubbs, should be up there in stolen bases across the league, if they can get on base. Chisenhall takes over the duties at the hot corner, as he showed some good signs over the past couple years. Cabrera and Kipnis provide a pretty good middle infield, both at the plate and in the field. Huge expectations for newly signed bash brothers 1B/OF Swisher and UT/DH Reynolds. Santana rounds out this line-up behind the plate, and needs to repeat (and improve) on his 2012 campaign, where he led the Indians in HR's (18) and RBI's (76), while holding a subpar batting average of .252. Depth and health are another concern/question the Indians have heading into 2013. If they can stay healthy and play consistently, this team could make some noise in the AL Central.
I will be back sometime in the middle of spring training to update you all, on the status of the two teams, and see how each team is playing, as they inch closer and closer to Opening Day 2013 in early April.