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March 23, 2008

Team Health Reports

Cincinnati Reds

by Will Carroll

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The Facts
Head Trainer: Mark Mann
Player Days Lost: 1,267
Total Dollars Lost: $12.46 million
Three-Year Rank: 26

I think even Dusty Baker would agree with me when I say that only one thing matters in baseball: results. No one cares that you have one of the more respected doctors, one of the few that other teams trust enough to send their athletes to for surgery. No one cares that, over and over, the team has been able to get Ken Griffey Jr. back from his myriad cascade leg injuries, and that last season, right up until the point where he tore his groin, he was healthy and productive. No one cares that you were saddled with the injury stats of Gary Majewski, or a rogue's gallery of retreaded pitchers. On results and results alone, over the last three years, the Reds haven't produced.

The vast majority of their injuries have been on the pitching side, especially in the pen. In addition to taking the Majewski days, Wayne Krivsky also saddled Mark Mann's staff with a half-season of Eddie Guardado's rehab. It's tougher to judge on the position player side of things; Ken Griffey Jr. is now an expected risk rather than the exciting talent he once was, but who's really to blame for his extended cascade of leg injuries? Griffey's ability to continually come back has to be balanced by the fact that he keeps having to come back. That rehab feat created a reputation, which in turn gave Lonnie Soloff a chance to move up and over to the Indians.

The Reds are facing a lot of issues, but with an unsettled front office, a manager with tendencies that go against the strength of the team, an aging superstar, and perhaps the final year of Adam Dunn's Reds career, they're still real contenders. If Mann and his staff can get the days lost, especially on the pitching side, down to even an average level, the Reds will be in position to hang with the Cubs and Brewers in a division that's weakened over last year.

The Big Question
The bloggers at Red Reporter ask: "Adam Dunn had season-ending surgery to repair a torn meniscus and clean out his right knee. Is this something that will bother him in the near future, or should the surgery improve things for now?"

This is a big question, mostly related to the size of Dunn himself. He's always been big, but now, in the words of Lyle Lovett, he's not big, he's large. The injury and surgery is minor, so it's really a question of whether it's a sign of problems to come. No one will mistake Dunn for Carlos Lee, but both are big men with some knee problems in their history, so in this, at least, I think the comparison is apt. Dunn's shown that he can run so far in camp, but as of the time I wrote this, he only had one homer. I'm not too worried yet, and figure that Dunn may start a bit slow, but end up with his normal 40 homers, 100 RBI, and 175 strikeouts. If the Reds don't like it, maybe Drew Stubbs is more to their liking.

C David Ross Yellow light: Ross came to camp with the same back spasms that had him hurting last year. Splitting time with Javier Valentin keeps his risk reasonable.

1B Joey Votto Green light

2B Brandon Phillips Green light

SS Alex Gonzalez Yellow light: A broken kneecap? That sounds painful. Gonzalez's compression fracture is an oddball injury that opens up some playing time for Jeff Keppinger Green light. Still, Gonzalez is likely to get the bulk of the playing time once he's back in mid-April.

3B Edwin Encarnacion Green light

LF Adam Dunn Yellow light: See today's Big Question.

CF Jay Bruce Yellow light: Never mind that Ryan Freel Red light, Corey Patterson Green light, and Norris Hopper Green light will probably split time here to start the year. Bruce is the one Cincinnati center fielder that Reds fans and prospect mavens are concerned about. His yellow is mostly on age and an adjustment for the field that's likely skewed by the fact that it's been manned by Griffey and Freel for the past five years. Bruce's frame might not like the distances he has to cover in the Gap's expanses.

RF Ken Griffey Jr. Red light: Red since coming to the Reds, when his legs are under him, Griffey's natural talent is still there. Another groin problem ended last year's run at his 600th home run, but he'll resume the chase in 2008. His father never had his power, but if Junior has his father's staying power, he could get near the 700 mark if he can just stay relatively healthy.

SP Aaron Harang Green light

SP Bronson Arroyo Green light

SP Matt Belisle Yellow light: Belisle is what one GM calls a "break glass" pitcher. You know, as in "in case of emergency..." The Reds have more options this season, which could keep Belisle in his case, or at least in the pen.

SP Homer Bailey Red light: Bailey's indifference to coaching, situational pitching, or any of the subtleties of the game are masked by his talent. He'll have to make adjustments or he'll quickly find himself in the vast expanse of Dusty's doghouse or, worse, completely bypassed by Johnny Cueto (who's also getting the Red light from me).

SP Edinson Volquez Red light: Volquez's ridiculous hair doesn't affect his injury risk, but it does allow anyone to notice that he has a "pop" in his delivery. Some of his energy goes up-as does his hair at that point-which often leads to the ball being up in the zone. While it's not as pronounced as it once was, even the trip back to Single-A didn't make his mechanics ideal. He's still young and his stuff is still filthy, but he's facing a major innings increase in a ballpark that won't help his confidence.

CL Francisco Cordero Yellow light: Everyone seems to be looking back to June, when two poor performances put Cordero back to his normal level rather than at an unsustainable level of dominance (given his stuff) that he achieved after a Mike Maddux adjustment to his arm slot. Analysis of his game log and video shows no real evidence of fatigue. His history of arm problems is enough to keep him yellow.

RP: David Weathers Green light

Lineups courtesy SportsBlogs Nation.

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