By Josh Kramer
Have you ever heard the expression, “Strike while the iron is hot?” Well that simple five-word expression is exactly what the Reds are living by this off-season. On Monday, Barry Larkin was voted into baseball immortality. Late Tuesday, a new closer was added to the roster, all but ending the trying days of “Coco Cordero.” This has been an amazing off-season for the Cincinnati Reds as they look to erase the memory of 2011′s highly disappointing campaign and bring the city its first World Championship since 1990. I will admit that I was a little hesitant at first as Walt Jocketty began what seemed like a garage sale of sorts (Latos deal). But now I understand the logic and can’t complain. Jocketty is doing all he can to deliver on the “Win Now” mentality that he brought with him from St. Louis.
The Cincinnati “Votto Window” has just two years remaining. Cincinnati is not the Yankees or Red Sox. They are a middle-market team. In baseball, especially as a middle-market franchise, you must strike while the iron is hot. And that is exactly what Cincinnati’s Walt Jocketty is doing. This most recent signing of Ryan Madson was ingenious in more ways than one. Number one, Madson is an upgrade to a highly overpaid Francisco Cordero. Madson converted 32 of 34 saves last year and had a highly impressive 2.37 ERA. The Reds Cordero, though he had a very solid year, blew 6 saves last year and had an ERA of 2.45. In addition, Madson had a very impressive 62 to 16 strikeout to walk ratio (3.9), while Cordero struggled with control at times (1.9 strikeout to walk ratio). And of course we have all had moments where “Coco” drives us “Loco” in Cincinnati. Number two, Madson was signed for just one year. This will make him feel like a free agent and we all saw what guys are capable of doing in “Contract Years” (see Reyes, Fielder, and Pujols). Thirdly, Cordero is already 36-years-old with 12 years of mileage on him, while Madson is 31-years-old with plenty left in the tank. In situations like this, I would say go with age before beauty.
They say baseball games are won and lost with pitching. Well, I think it is safe to say the Reds have definitely beefed up both their rotation and their bullpen. Not too shabby for a middle-market team eh? And with the departure of Albert Pujols, likely departure of Prince Fielder, and looming suspension for reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun, the NL Central appears ripe for the taking. Cincinnati would love a repeat of 2010. Only this year, they won’t be sneaking up on anybody.
Now I am fully aware that October is a long ways away and plenty can happen between now and then. Really, plenty could happen between now and opening day, but at this point, I am very excited about the Reds chances. Reds fans may be hearing a lot of “And this one belongs to the Reds” in 2012.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.