September 26, 2011; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Mat Latos (38) throws during the third inning against the Chicago Cubs at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Reds Going For It

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This weekend various representatives of the Cincinnati Reds organization, including manager Dusty Baker, are on tour throughout Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, reaching out to the fan base in what is called The Reds Caravan.

They should play to enthusiastic crowds because the team has shown in a variety of moves all winter that it intends to win and win now. Few teams have done as much to move into better position for a division title or advancement in the playoffs than the Reds this off-season. Cincinnati fans on the tour are not being bored with rebuilding mode speeches. This is a good time for buy season tickets. The club deserves an “A” for its moves.

In 2010, when nobody expected it, the Reds won the National League Central Division and the postseason-clinching clubhouse celebration was as raucous as New Year’s Eve in Times Square, only with more champagne. It was the first time the Reds had won anything to speak of in about 20 years.

Going into the 2011 season, the expectations were higher. Fans and players thought they were on the right track. Only the suggested charge to a second straight playoff spot fizzled. The Milwaukee Brewers won the division and the St. Louis Cardinals squeaked into the playoffs as a Wild Card entry on the last day of the season and then somehow won the World Series.

The Reds did not hit quite as consistently and could not keep their pitchers healthy. So the front office went to work. The Cardinals are diminished because Albert Pujols left for the Angels in free agency. The Brewers are diminished because Prince Fielder left for the Tigers in free agency and because Ryan Braun is facing a possible 50-game suspension.

This helps throw the division wide open for the taking and the Reds have made it obvious they want to take. The biggest moves have beefed up the pitching staff. Starter Mat Latos has been added. Middle reliever Sean Marshall has been added. Closer Ryan Madson has been added. Nick Massett was signed to a minor league contract, giving him a chance to prove he can still play.

Ryan Ludwick was signed to share outfield and pinch-hitting duties with Chris Heisey.

This also may become the Aroldis Chapman breakthrough season. The 100 mph Cuban wonder has been babied along with limited showings for two years now. It’s time to determine if he can become the big-time contributor his blazing fastball indicated he would be.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has positioned his team to win its division and for him to be considered executive of the year.

The Reds assessed their roster, assessed the competition and made the right call to spend and invest in going after the division title immediately. The philosophy is Why Not Us? Rather than sit back and be re-active, the Reds have been pro-active. Things are looking mighty promising at the Great American Ball Park.

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Tags: Albert Pujols Aroldis Chapman Chris Heisey Detroit Tigers Dusty Baker LA Angels Mat Latos Milwaukee Brewers Prince Fielder Ryan Braun Ryan Ludwick Ryan Madson Sean Marshall St Louis Cardinals Walt Jocketty

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