Monday, March 18, 2013

Three Reds who are up, three Reds who are down

Two weeks from today, the city of Cincinnati will be enjoying an unofficial holiday as the Redlegs open their 2013 season against the Halos from Los Angeles. It will be a momentous occasion for all of Reds country as we celebrate the dawn of a new campaign. But for now, we are left to count down the days until Opening Day finally arrives.

In the meantime, let us explore a post I like to call "three up and three down," which features three players who are scorching the stat sheet this spring, and three others that are...not. While success or failure in the preseason doesn't always mean the same result for the regular season, it should be given at least some value. Because honestly, what else do we have to go off of right now?


+ C Devin Mesoraco - There was some talk over the winter that Mez may begin the year in Triple-A while free agent signee Miguel Olivo would serve the backup catching role to Ryan Hanigan. Mesoraco's sizzling bat this spring has virtually eliminated any possibility of that happening. The former first round pick is batting a team-leading .435 (10-23) with two homers, 10 RBI, and three doubles. Hanigan's contract is up at the end of the year and the Reds would like nothing more than for Mesoraco to earn the starting catcher job by September.

+ 1B Joey Votto - Votto is showing no ill effects of the knee injury that crippled him for the second half of 2012. His power has appeared to have returned (two homers, two doubles) and he is displaying his usual patience at the plate, as well (six walks). Overall, he is batting .393 (11-28) with eight RBI, six runs scored, and an on-base percentage of .500. Could another MVP award be in Votto's near future?

+ OF Shin-Soo Choo - All aboard the Shin-Soo Choo train! The Korean native has been as good as advertised so far as evidenced by his .400 average (10-25), three stolen bases, and eight runs scored. He is doing exactly what the Reds brought him in to do out of the leadoff spot: get on base and score runs. Choo also seems to be making the transition from right to center field rather well, but the jury is still out on whether he can hold down the fort defensively in center on a routine basis.

Honorable Mentions: Jonathan Broxton (5 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB), Mat Latos (11 IP, 3 ER, 2 BB, 10 K)


+ SP Mike Leake - The right-hander was throwing the ball relatively well until he ran into the Brewers on Saturday. Leake, who may or may not be battling for the fifth spot in the rotation, was knocked around for 10 hits and seven runs (five earned) before being lifted after 3.1 innings. The Arizona State product sports a 6.48 ERA overall and opponents are hitting a whopping .411 against him. Ouch. The good news for Leake is that he may land a spot in the rotation by default after Aroldis Chapman publicly expressed his desire to close over the weekend.

+ OF Ryan Ludwick - The 33-year-old is off to a slow start this year, hitting just .125 (4-32) with no homers and no RBI to go along with 10 strikeouts against only one walk. He busted out for a monster campaign in 2012 to help propel Cincy to a division title, but some remain skeptical as to whether he can have the same outburst in 2013, myself included. Ludwick opted to re-sign with the Reds this winter despite the chance to make more money elsewhere, a decision which was lauded by Reds country, and he is expected to handle the everyday duties in left this year. Can he smash 25+ homers and drive in 80+ runs again, though?

+ C Miguel Olivo - The veteran backstop had a chance to squeeze out Mesoraco for the backup catching job come Opening Day, but those dreams are nearly history after the disparity of performance between them this spring. Olivo is batting .143 (4-28) with 11 strikeouts and two extra base hits. He will likely begin the year in Louisville (Triple-A) as their everyday starter and may have a chance to help the big club at season's end, or because of an injury, whichever happens first. Hopefully he can turn things around soon, because as Dioner Navarro proved last season, it never hurts to have another capable catcher waiting on the bench.

Honorable Mentions: Johnny Cueto (15 IP, 8 ER, 14 H, 5 BB), Billy Hamilton (.136 BA, 9 K, 2 BB, 0 XBH)

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