Editor’s note: I had the pleasure of previewing the 2013 Brewers season over at Reds blog Chris-Sabos-Goggles last week and Brian Welch of that fine site has done The Brewers Bar the favor of helping us preview the 2013 Cincinnati Reds. You can check them out at Chris-Sabos-Goggles.com and/or follow them on Twitter at @Goggles17.
1) What happened to the Reds in last year's playoffs vs. the Giants? They were looking so good.
You had to bring it up, didn't you? There's really no excuse for winning the first 2 games (of a 5 game series) on the road, and then getting swept at home. None.
HOWEVER… once Cueto went down in Game 1, it really screwed things up for the remainder of the series. The Reds were in good shape as long as they won Game 3 (obviously), but if they lost Game 3 — which normally wouldn't have been a big deal — the Reds were in real trouble. Instead of having Cueto pitch game 4, the Reds had to turn to Mike Leake, who was only on the playoff roster because Cueto got hurt.
Leake ended up pitching okay in that game, but Barry Zito was terrible — the Reds just couldn't take advantage of it, though. Once the Reds lost Game 4 I knew they were toast. Not because I didn't have faith in Latos (I absolutely did), but because all the pressure was now on the Reds.
Bottom line: they choked.
2) Do you feel the 2013 Reds roster needed only minor tinkering for the NL-Central-winning club from 2012?
They definitely needed a new lead-off hitter, and they got one when they traded Drew Stubbs for Shin-Soo Choo. Beyond that, and a weak bench (also addressed in the offseason), the 2012 team didn't have a lot of holes to fill. I definitely feel like this year's team is improved, but their window of opportunity is closing fast.
3) Is Choo going to work out in center? Is Chapman better off as a closer? Will ex-Brewer Manny Parra make the Opening Day bullpen?
Is Choo going to work out in center?
I think Choo will be fine in center. I just don't see him making so many mistakes out there that it'll end up being a problem for the team. Then again, Stubbs covered a ton of ground, so I'm not used to seeing many mistakes made in the outfield.
Is Chapman better off as a closer?
We'll never know. I can tell you that he's a damn good closer, and a ton of fun to watch, but it would've been nice to see what he could do as a starter. Especially since earlier in the offseason the Reds paid Jonathan Broxton $21 million over three years to be their new closer. Oops!
(The Brewers Bar: I think a lot of Brewers fans would rather see Chapman pitch only once every five days. Yowza…talk about a shutdown closer.)
Will ex-Brewer Manny Parra make the Opening Day bullpen?
It doesn't look like it.
Edit: Manny Parra did make the team, after all.
4) Why are the Reds better than the Cards?
Depends how you define "better." The Cardinals have certainly had more success than the Reds recently. Yes, the Reds won the division last year, but the Cardinals got the Wild Card and advanced to the NLCS. That doesn't make the Cardinals the better team, but they certainly ended up having a better season. Do I think the Reds will be better than the Cardinals this season? Yes. What does that mean? We'll see.
5) What distinguishes Mr. Red from Mr. Redlegs? They're different characters, right?
Yes, they're different characters, and I'm ashamed to admit that I usually don't know the difference unless I look up which one is which. The best way to keep them straight is that Mr. Red is terrifying, while Mr. Redlegs is not. And don't forget Rosie Red.
(The Brewers Bar: Plus, Mr. Redlegs has the mustache. Rosie Red has an interesting story too. The Reds mascots are very interesting.)
6) When I visited GABP there looked to be some construction by the ballpark's riverfront border. Are they building something in that mud pit?
I live in Chicago, so I'm not sure exactly what's being built, but I do know that whole area is FINALLY being developed with restaurants, bars, condos, shops, etc. It should be really nice once it's done, because up until recently there was nothing to do in downtown Cincinnati.
7) Do you like your chili on spaghetti noodles, Skyline style? What's the deal with Cincy and chili, because as an outside observer I'm intrigued but a bit confused.
Skyline Chili is a required stop whenever I'm in Cincinnati. I'm a cheese coney (hot dog, chili, mustard, cheese) guy myself, but you can't go wrong with the 3/4/5-way, which is the chili on top of noodles (with optional beans, onions, cheese, etc.). It's not for everyone, but it's definitely worth trying.
8) To you, is Cincinnati in Ohio, or Kentucky?
I find it difficult to even acknowledge Kentucky as an actual state, so Cincinnati is definitely in Ohio.
9) The Brewers and Reds seem to have built a fierce but respectful rivalry, but the Milwaukee-Cincinnati MLB clashes actually date back to the Braves days. What's the perception of the Milwaukee Brewers there?
I'd say the Brewers are the NL Central team that Reds fans hate the least. Your fans are pretty decent, and the team doesn't have a lot of unlikable characters. The Cardinals are by far the most-hated, but I feel like that's a fairly new rivalry for the Reds. And the Cubs are always hated because they're the Cubs.
It should be pretty telling that I had to go back and amend my answer to this question because I completely forgot that the Pirates were also in our division. Talk about a "meh" rivalry for the Reds. There was a 12- or 13-day period during last season when the Reds actually cared about what the Pirates were doing, but then we got distracted by something we saw out the window.
I would like to thank Brian of Chris Sabo’s Goggles once again for contributing not only insight into the 2013 Reds, but also some perspectives on the city of Cincinnati and the culture there that sometimes gets lost between the lines. I look forward to discussing Reds/Brewers again with him sometime during the season. -NM