Okay I know it's only March. Dunn won't keep hitting .400, Belisle won't keep throwing shutouts, and Hamilton won't keep walking on water.
At the same time I haven't felt this good or excited going into a Reds season since Griffey came over. Consider the following.
1. For the first time since the days of Rijo and Browning the Reds have a legitimate 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. The back end is still unstable, but considering the retreads and "There's a Drive" candidates they've run out there since the mid 90s there's at least some optimism in the rotation.
2. Defense up the middle. Gonzo-Phillips DP combo. Griffey shifting to right. Finally some logic on the lineup card.
3. EE-potential breakout year?
4. Some intriguing July-August possibilities: Everyday Eddie coming back, Votto potentially coming up (no way both Hatteburg AND Conine stay healthy all year). Not to mention...
5. Homer. Looming as that late-July callup that blows everybody away for the last two months and becomes the X-factor for the postseason a la K-Rod in 2002 or Jaret Wright in 97. Personally I think this is the best scenario for him, even better than starting out in the rotation.
6. Hamilton's comeback. A feel good story all year. Potential for anything. (And by anything I mean from starting in centerfield by April, to hitting .350, to solid pinch hitter/bench guy, to .170 hitter cut after three weeks, to arrested with the entire Bengals starting defense after re-enacting half of Natural Born Killers. I mean nothing this guy does this season will surprise me. The sky's the limit. And yes, I'm pulling harder than anyone. He's my first "I must check the box score every day to see how he did" guy since the heydays of Eric Davis.)
7. Dick Pole, pitching coach. I mean you can't put a price on that kind of fun. My jersey's on order.
8. The pen. We're talking about who we're going to send down this year instead of who we should go out and get. When the hell was the last time that happened?
9. Krivsky. After what he pulled off last year, I trust him. Then again after the DanO years they could have hired my old alcoholic roomie Craw and I would have felt in better hands. Still it feels like they're on the right path.
10. This is very, very important. The Cards went 82-80 last season and won the division. Little improvement in the offseason. Houston's rotation has taken some big hits. God knows how the Cubs will react to all the signings, they're like a fantasy team put together by a drunken frat boy. And the Pirates and Brewers are still the Pirates and Brewers. My point is this baby is wide open this season. Anybody could wind up getting hot and stealing this thing. I'm giddy.
Okay this post went way longer than I wanted, but I can't help it. I'm psyched. As Red would say...
I hope Arroyo and Harang can go the distance, I hope to see my friend Griffey with something still in the tank, I hope to make to GABP and hear the crowd roar. I hope the pennant is a red as it has been in my dreams... I hope