Feb 22, 2013; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker (12) walks back to the dugout after making a pitching change during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

What a difference a year makes


Feb. 25, 2012: Happy Spring Training! What an offseason for the Cincinnati Reds! Walt Jocketty made some big moves over the winter.

He brought in Mat Latos, who has a chance to be a legitimate ace. He’s got some really good numbers, especially for his age, and he’ll be in town for a few years. He’ll make a nice one-two punch at the top of the rotation with Johnny Cueto, if Cueto can stay healthy. Rounding out the starting five you have Mike Leake, who was the club’s second-best starter last year after Cueto. Then there’s Homer Bailey, who’s been a bit of a disappointment so far in his career but he’s alright for the back of the rotation. And then there’s Bronson Arroyo, who was a disaster last season. Hopefully he can be decent until the break, and then the Reds can ship him off to a contender that needs pitching and slide Aroldis Chapman in his place or something, although Chapman has been pretty wild throughout his career.

Can you believe the Reds signed Ryan Madson?!? That was a huge shock. The bullpen has potential to be really strong this season. And I love that Sean Marshall trade. If Nick Masset can come back soon that will be a really solid lefty-righty set-up platoon for the late innings before Madson.

Jocketty also brought in Ryan Ludwick. I guess he’ll probably split time with Chris Heisey in left. I know most Reds fans were hoping to get somebody that can play left field and bat cleanup everyday, and are pretty disappointed that instead they got a guy whose best years were several years ago, but he could be decent in a new ballpark.

I’m really excited to see what the young guys like Zack Cozart and Devin Mesoraco can do. I bet at the end of the season one of them will be in the discussion for Rookie of the Year. Or maybe both of them! Hopefully some other young players can step up too, like Drew Stubbs. Hey, I’m sure he can’t be much worse than he was last year!

I just can’t wait for the start of the season. I think the Reds have a good chance to get back to the playoffs after missing out last year. If they can just get in and win a game or two, I’m sure I won’t have any complaints. It’ll be an improvement over two years ago. I’ll be pretty happy.

Oct. 8, 2012: Wow, what a game last night! The Reds stomped the Giants 9-0 to take a 2-0 lead in the NLDS. This series is just about over. Giants fans have pretty much given up.

Homer Bailey should be able to close this thing out tomorrow. He’s been the ace of the staff over the last month or so, especially with that no-hitter. And if he can just hold onto a lead for six innings, Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton can go the rest of the way and turn it over to Chapman, one of the best closers in the game.

The bats are on fire right now. They had 13 hits last night, 22 in the first two games of the series. Did you see that bomb that Ludwick hit yesterday? Man, he turned out to be a great pickup, didn’t he? It looks like the Reds have a cleanup hitter.

I’m a little surprised that we haven’t seen too much of Todd Frazier yet. He’s got a good chance to win Rookie of the Year. I’m sure we’ll see more of him in the NLCS. Hopefully the Reds can clinch tomorrow and rest up and Johnny Cueto will be back for the next round. I wonder if we’ll play the Nationals or the Cardinals…

Feb. 25, 2013: Happy Spring Training! I’m ready for the season to start to wash that bitter taste out of my mouth from the way last year ended.

I can’t wait to see Shin-Soo Choo in a Reds uniform. What a big trade. I don’t know how he’ll do in centerfield, but it sure will be nice to have him in the leadoff spot. The lineup is looking really strong this year. I think everybody is glad that Jocketty brought Ludwick back. Cozart, Frazier, and Mesoraco should be better with another year under their belts. It’s a very realistic possibility that seven guys on this team can hit 20 or more home runs if everybody can stay healthy.

Speaking of staying healthy, it will be pretty tough to replicate what the Reds did last year, with nobody missing a start in the regular season. Cincinnati is lucky to have five quality starters, and who knows what will happen with Chapman?

He’ll be missed in the bullpen if he ends up in the rotation, but Broxton should be a capable closer and the rest of the bullpen should be similar to last year’s, which was the best in baseball.

Last year was a lot of fun; this year everybody seems like they’re ready to get down to business. It seems like this team is on a mission. If the Reds can’t win at least a series in the playoffs this year, it will be a disappointment. There aren’t too many weaknesses on this team. Let’s get started.

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