I am thinking that the Opening Day roster should be all but set by now, as should the starting rotation. I see Corey Patterson and Joey Votto taking the starting spots with Jay Bruce making the roster as well. Homer Bailey goes to the Minors and the rotation looks something like this: Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Josh Fogg, Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez. Sound about right to you?
-- Daniel A., Dayton, Ohio
Your picks for the rotation's starting five are the same that I would make, with two weeks left in camp. Even though Cueto had a bumpy outing on Monday, he and Volquez have pitched themselves into the starting five and deserve to go north. However, I think Matt Belisle could still make the rotation because Dusty Baker is high on him and his 175 innings from last season. As for Bailey, he seems destined to begin at Triple-A Louisville after some uneven performances. Time is running out for him to turn it around.
Everybody is talking about the competition to make the starting five. How many bullpen spots do you see being open? And how many guys do you think the Reds will have in the bullpen to start the season? Obviously, Francisco Cordero, Jared Burton, and David Weathers are locks.
-- Michael C., Urbana, Ohio
Assuming the Reds going with a 12-man pitching staff (which has yet to be determined), that leaves four spots open in the bullpen, after accounting for the three locks you correctly mentioned. There are a ton of guys still battling for the remaining spots.
If I were to pick the bullpen, it would look like this: Cordero, Weathers, Burton, Jeremy Affeldt, Todd Coffey, Kent Mercker and if he doesn't make the rotation, Volquez.
What do the Reds see in Coffey? It seems like I am always holding my breath when he comes in the game. He hasn't done anything to impress me at all in the last couple of years.
-- Kyle J., Connersville, Ind.
To be fair, Coffey had a very solid 2006 (81 appearances) before things went south in 2007. This spring, he's looked pretty good. Much trimmer after losing about 25 pounds, he's pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings in five games through Sunday. If Coffey is on, he helps the bullpen and could be a strong option for the seventh inning.
Have a question about the Reds?
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With all the pitching acquisitions, along with the promising farm prospects, what are the chances owner Bob Castellini eats Mike Stanton's salary to make room for someone deserving of a roster spot?
-- Keith J., Cincinnati, Ohio
Stanton is owed $3.5 million, including a buyout for his 2009 option. In each of the last two seasons, Castellini has eaten big contacts (Dave Williams for $1.5 million in 2006 and Rheal Cormier at $2.25 million in 2007), but not right away. I predict that Stanton will make the team. If he struggles out of the gate like he did last year, I could see the Reds making a decision by the end of April or beginning of May like they did with both Williams and Cormier in years past.
Isn't it embarrassing when Baker says that he doesn't like walks or on-base percentage because it clogs the bases? I find this to be an incredibly ignorant statement. Also, he is pressuring Votto to "swing the bat more." This is unfortunate because Votto's great patience and ability to not hit the pitcher's pitch is exactly what has made him such a fine hitter and a great prospect. Why doesn't the media question Baker's distorted view of OBP?
-- Anthony R., Chicago, Ill.
I don't think it's embarrassing. Baker just has a different opinion than you do. I don't think sabermetrics has to be the be all, end all in evaluating talent. It certainly has value in the equation and each team should place some emphasis on it. I don't fully agree with Baker's "clogging up the bases" comment because you need guys to get on base in order to score runs. But I do think he's right that many hitters place "too much emphasis" on OBP by being too selective and not enough on simply hitting the baseball.
Numbers can tell you all sorts of things about a player, but they still don't factor in the human element. And the game is played by humans, after all. Or at least, I think it still is. I better check on that. Humans or no humans, the bottom line is wins and losses. Just like Democrats and Republicans differ on how this country should be run, everybody who watches baseball has a differing view on how a team should be built in order to win. In the big tent that is the Reds mailbag, there is room for all points of views.
Why do the Reds seem to take such a huge number of players, especially pitchers, to camp and then be slow to cut them? There is no way that all of these guys can be getting enough innings, whether at the plate or on the mound.
-- Ted. K, Cincinnati, Ohio
The cuts have begun but you're right that the first wave took a surprisingly long time. However, getting guys that need innings or at-bats shouldn't be a problem even with the larger size of camp. Those who need work can get into a Minor League game or a big league "B" scrimmage, if one is scheduled. There are also split-squad games that open up some chances for playing time.
Do you think a possible move to Arizona would be good for the team's Spring Training? I just think that Florida is a perfect choice as so many Ohioans vacation there already. I mean I-75 practically runs straight from Great American Ballpark into Ed Smith Stadium. Do you think that fans will make the trek to Arizona?
-- Andy, Cincinnati, Ohio
I've answered similar questions before, and will revisit it briefly. I think having the best Spring Training facilities available will be good for the Reds, regardless of which state. As for the alleged scores of Ohioans that come here for vacation, where are they? The first sellout of 7,564 fans at the Ed didn't come until Monday (today) vs. Detroit, and a clear majority of the crowd rooted for the Tigers. I think fans from Ohio already visit, and often relocate, to Arizona right now, and I think even more Ohioans will venture to the desert in February and March if and when the Indians and Reds are both there two springs from now.
Don't get me wrong. I like the city of Sarasota but there seems to be no passion or buzz for the Reds here. Even the local newspaper here gives the Pirates' camp in Bradenton and the Rays in St. Petersburg more coverage than they do for the Reds, who play within their own city limits.
On to the lightning round:
There was a question in your last mailbag concerning the Reds' games on TV this season, but I noticed you didn't mention Jim Day at all. Is he still broadcasting for FSN Ohio or has he left? He was one of my favorite announcers.
-- Thomas M., Westerville, Ohio.
Jim will be back doing pre- and postgame shows, as will Jeff Piecoro.
I was wondering if you know what happened to Rule 5 pick Sergio Valenzuela? I think I read he pitched in an intrasquad game before Spring Training but since then I haven't heard anything about him.
-- Arturo A., Hermosillo, Mexico
Valenzuela was sold back to the Braves last week. He didn't get into any exhibition games for the Reds.
When the Reds play a split-squad game and Baker is managing the home squad, who manages the road team?
-- Brian J., Charleston, WVa.
It's happened twice thus far and both times it's been Chris Speier managing on the road.
Do you know if the Reds have talked about finishing up Spring Training this year in Dayton like they did last year? I attended the game their last year and it was a really good time.
-- Matt P, Sidney, Ohio
There are currently no plans to play an exhibition game in Dayton at the end of spring.
Whatever happened to pitcher Elizardo Ramirez? I haven't heard anything about him in a long time?
-- Alex B., Evansville, Ind.
Ramirez is now with the Rangers organization.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.