Cincinnati Reds

Early MLB predictions: Who will come out of the National League in 2013?

It’s never too early to start making predictions, right? Sure, spring training has only just begun, but what better time to predict which teams will be resilient enough to make it through the season and duke it out for baseball’s ultimate prize? In fact, should I get my predictions right, I’ll be seen as a baseball genius. And, should I get them wrong, I can just attribute it to the fact that my prediction was made in March. It’s a win-win. So, without further ado, here is my 2013 National League Champion prediction. 

On paper, it looks to be a five-horse race for the 2013 National League pennant. The Nationals, Dodgers, Giants, Reds and Braves all look like they could play the part this year in the NL. However, when looking at potential contenders, you can never count out the St. Louis Cardinals, a team that has lived for October over the past decade. Additionally, with their payroll and own version of the “Big Three” atop their rotation, the Phillies will look to come back strong in 2013 after missing the playoffs in 2012. 

The Reds are set to win the NL Central, with a rotation that can rack up innings and a potent lineup. The addition of Shin-Soo Choo at the top of the lineup is one of the more underrated moves of the offseason and could turn out to pay huge dividends when October rolls around. The Cardinals will give them some trouble in the Central, and I expect the Redbirds to earn another Wild Card berth.

A point of concern I have for the Nationals and Braves and the Dodgers and Giants is the fact that both these pairs of teams are in the same division, which could cause them to beat up on each other during the regular season. Furthermore, one of these teams might not even make the playoffs, assuming the Cardinals fulfill my prediction and clinch the other Wild Card spot.

In the NL West, I expect the Giants to win the division once again, despite the blockbuster moves the Dodgers made during the past offseason. I believe there is lots of built-up pressure in the LA baseball community, and I’m not positive that the Dodgers made all the right moves to build toward winning a championship. Instead, the Dodgers roster looks to be full of unproven players who will attract a larger fan base.

In the NL East, I fully expect the Nationals to pick up where they left off, with a slight decrease in run production. However, should Steven Strasburg make it through a whole season this year, expect them to dominate even more than last year. The addition of Denard Span will provide a spark at the top of the lineup and expect Bryce Harper to take another step forward this season. The Braves will rely on an aging Tim Hudson and two very young starting pitchers that have only really proven themselves for one season. What worries me more, in the case of the Braves more than the Nationals, is the threat of the Philadelphia Phillies. After a very disappointing, injury-riddled season last year, the Phillies will be hungry and the intense fan base will provide enough pressure and motivation to force another playoff appearance or a change in management.

In my eyes, the Nationals, Giants and Reds look to be the cream of the crop in terms of management, talent and experience of recent success. However, the Giants have won it all two of the past three years, so the odds are against them. So it comes down to the Reds and the Nationals. To be honest, I can’t make a case against the Reds potentially reaching the Fall Classic, but last year, the Nationals made one decision preventing them from getting past the Cardinals in the 2012 NLDS — the decision to sit Steven Strasburg after pitching 160 innings. Strasburg would have gotten the Nats through that series and perhaps deeper into the playoffs, but the organization chose to make a long-term decision.

Therefore, this year, barring any injuries to Strasburg or any other key players, the Nationals will fight their way through the National League en route to the World Series.
 

Professor Gerhardt Zimmermann, conductor for the University of Texas student orchestra, continually fights through the physical limitations of contracting polio at age seven.

Photo Credit: Marshall Nolen | Daily Texan Staff

If professor Gerhardt Zimmermann had a choice, he would play second base for the Cincinnati Reds. Polio knocked the wind out of that. 

But then again, until his first rehearsal after making second trumpet for Bowling Green State University as a freshman, he had never heard a full live orchestra.

“When I heard the strings, a light bulb went off,” Zimmermann said. “That changed my life, to hear all of the additional orchestral colors was just not the same. It was like going from a 24 crayon box to a 64 crayon box. All those other colors. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a conductor: an orchestral conductor.” 

Because he contracted polio when he was seven years old, Zimmermann wears two leg braces, but he doesn’t let that get in the way of his work. Like most conductors, he sits during rehearsals and stands during concerts, but Zimmermann said the most difficult part of being a conductor with a disability is getting over the prejudice.

“The problem is that people will look at a person with disabilities and they decide what they can do or not,” Zimmermann said. “Nobody decides that for me. I decide that.”

Roger Myers, professor of viola and chairman of strings division at UT, said that Zimmermann has a tested knowledge from a career of conducting symphony orchestras. 

“He teaches through his conducting itself so as you watch it, you’re also watching someone who conveys his authority through the end of his baton,” Myers said. “It’s completely demonstrative without using words. When he uses words, he has a sense of immense knowledge behind what he says and he can tell students what he wants quickly and he doesn’t need to talk to get his point across.” 

Meredith Riley, who completed her bachelor’s degree at UT and is now pursuing an artist degree in violin performance, referenced a speech that famous violinist David Kim once gave about how even the best performer needs to be a good person to be successful. 

“I think that speaks volumes about a lot of musicians, but for ‘Z’ especially because I’m sure that there were good candidates that came up for the job, and despite polio, despite whatever, despite age, the [reality was] that ‘Z’ got the job,” Riley said.

In her five years studying under Zimmermann, Riley said that she has never thought of him as disabled. 

“And that’s probably because he’s such a good conductor,” Riley said. “I know ‘Z’ used to want to be a baseball player when he was a kid, so I guess, in a weird way, him getting polio as a kid was a really great thing for the music world rather than him becoming a baseball player. You want to be an all-star but instead you’re a rock star.”

Zimmermann is one of the main reasons that Riley returned after receiving her undergraduate degree. 

“If he’s really into something, and it’s an exciting thing, he’ll even start to do a little dance on the podium,” she said. “‘Z’ will usually say, ‘If you can see the whites of my eyes when I look at you, that means play out.’ I don’t think I’ll ever have a conductor like him again, that you can just joke with, that can just joke about himself, and make mistakes and not feel bad about it.” 

Riley recalled one time during a concert when Zimmermann’s arm got stuck in the air while he was conducting. 

“He just turned around [and] said, ‘I just recently got shots in my arm.’ In this situation, there are 4000 things you can do,” Riley said. “The thing that was amazing to me was that he let everybody know what was going on, mid-concert, which was something I had never experienced before. I was amazed with his knowledge of how to communicate with a crowd.”

Zimmermann said that classical musicians need to break down the wall between themselves and their audiences because walking onstage, smiling and simply playing doesn’t work anymore.

“You need to sell the humanity of the art itself,” he said. “The more conductors and artists that can do that, the better off classical music is going to be.”

Zimmermann said there’s no greater thing in the world to a musician than a concert that seems to exceed expectations. 

“The music says so much more to me and for me, so much more than words could ever say,” he said. “[Music] takes me far away from any sense of having a disability whatsoever. You can experience so many different emotions just by listening to music. And to be conducting it in front of an orchestra and all of that sound is coming to you. It’s unbelievable. I don’t need anything, really, but this.”

Published on February 18, 2013 as "Professor orchestrates inspiration". 

National League Central Preseason Power Rankings

Decisions are starting to be made, pitchers are being stretched out for more than 30 pitches an appearance, and lineups are starting to get closer to resembling major league lineups rather than a mixture of hopeful minor league prospects. As the season draws closer, we’re going to give you a preseason set of power rankings to get you up to speed for Opening Day.

1. Cincinnatti Reds: The Cincinnati Reds become the favorites in this division purely based off subtractions from other teams. Albert Pujols is no longer a Cardinal, and Prince Fielder is no longer a Brewer. The Reds did make a big trade in the offseason to acquire front line starter Mat Latos from the Padres, and he will join Johnny Cueto at the top of the rotation. Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips will bring the offense, and the Reds are sitting pretty before the season gets under way.

2. St. Louis Cardinals: The World Series champions have had a bit of retooling to do since they were spraying champagne in October. Albert Pujols took his talents to Los Angeles, and that leaves a big gap in the lineup for Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman to fill. Hall of Fame head coach Tony LaRussa retired, meaning they will have a new manager on the top step for the first time in 16 season. It’s not all doom and gloom in St. Louis though, they do get Adam Wainright back into their rotation, who missed all of last year with Tommy John surgery. Along with the strength of the rest of the rotation, the Cardinals will once again be competitive.

3. Milwaukee Brewers: Like their divisional counterpart Cardinals, the Brew Crew has a bit of rebuilding to do as well. Prince Fielder left for big money over the winter, and his left handed bat will be sorely missed. They added former Cubs third basemen Aramis Ramirez to the squad, and they do still have the reigning NL MVP in Ryan Braun. With the rotation headlined by Zach Greinke, the Brewers should make noise again in 2012.

4. Pittsburgh Pirates: With the Pirates on the cusp of their 20th consecutive losing season, there seems to be at least a small, minute gleam at the end of the tunnel. The Pirates were the surprise of the National League last year when they managed to stay relevant until August before unraveling at the seams. They locked up Andrew McCutchen to a long term deal and add A.J. Burnett to their rotation, but just crossing the .500 mark for this team would be cause for a parade in the steal city.

5. Chicago Cubs: The Steve Bartman incident of 2003, along with the last century of torture from the baseball gods, continues to burn holes in the souls of Cubs fans everywhere. The good news on the north side is that they took a step in the right direction this winter, trading for Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, who knows a thing or two about killing legendary curses. The bad news is, it takes time to build a team from the ground up, and the Cubs are in year 1 of a multi-year process. Patience Cubs fans, nothing lasts forever.

6. Houston Astros: They finished with the worst record in all of baseball last season, and appear to be spiraling into another failure of a season in 2012. They do have a new owner, Jim Crane, who promises to pump money and provide resources to turn the team around, but it’s not in the foreseeable future. The Astros have a farm system ranked in the bottom half of the entire league and average to below-average baseball appears to be on the horizon for awhile. The good news? They’re doing baseball a favor and bringing back the awesome Colt .45 jerseys that they wore for their first three years of existence.

Cole Green is 7-3 with a 3.09 ERA this season. He will start Saturday against Arizona State.

Photo Credit: John Smith | Daily Texan Staff

Cole Green is one of several Longhorns drafted in this year’s MLB draft. The senior went in the ninth round to the Cincinnati Reds at 295th overall.

“I’m definitely excited for the opportunity to go play [professionally],” Green said. “An organization wants me, that means a lot to me. I’m very happy to be picked by the Reds.”

It’s the second consecutive year Green was selected in the draft. The Detroit Tigers took him in the fourth round last summer, but Green chose to return to Texas for the chance to play for a national championship, and to earn his college degree. Green turned down a $300,000 signing bonus from Detroit, and understood that he would probably lose a lot of money by returning for his senior season.

“I was a little worried after I dropped past where I was drafted last year, the fourth round,” he said. “I understood that being a senior and not having the numbers I had last year takes away my leverage.”

Green was 11-2 last season with a 2.74 ERA, but saw those numbers dip to 7-3 and a 3.09 ERA this year. Green struggled early in the season, when he was fazed by the pressure of performing to his draft stock.

“I’ve definitely grown as a pitcher. I’ve learned a lot from my adversities, doing badly in the beginning of the year,” Green said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to be great this year. When I didn’t live up to it, I had to put myself in a different mindset and just be a competitor again.”

Green has talked briefly with the Cincinnati Reds, mostly “medical questionnaires and get-to-know-you stuff.”
“They told me after they drafted me ‘Hey, congratulations. Take care of business and we’ll talk after the season.’”
Green is slated to start Saturday’s game against Arizona State.

“We’ve done well and we came a lot closer last weekend,” Green said. “But this next weekend is important for my ideas and dreams of a national championship, which is why I came back.”

MLB

The Cincinnati Reds are division champions for the first time in 15 years, far exceeding expectations in a Cinderella season that saw a young core of players make a name for themselves in the big leagues — including former Texas baseball star Drew Stubbs, who left Austin in 2006.

Stubbs exploded onto the major league radar this year in his first full season in the big show. He played 150 games in center field and hit 22 homers, drove in 77 runs and stole 30 bases for the National League Central champs.

The former Big 12 co-player of the year will look to extend Cincinnati’s improbable season as the Reds take on the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the MLB playoffs. While the Reds are strangers to post-season success and the team lost the series opener 4-0 on Wednesday, Stubbs knows what it’s like to take the field on the big stage.

“Playing at the university — it being one of the grandest scales in college baseball — helped me transition to pro ball because when you start playing in front of the bigger crowds some guys get mesmerized,” Stubbs said. “But my experiences in Omaha [for the College World Series] and in the postseason at Texas prepared me for this.”

Cincinnati traded for 17-year MLB veteran Jim Edmonds in August to school Stubbs on the nuances of playing center field in the pros.

“He’s a guy that I followed growing up and I appreciate the way he plays the game,” Stubbs said. “He’s been a great mentor for me.”

But Edmonds isn’t the only figure in Stubbs’ baseball career who has had a lasting impact on the way he plays the game.

“Playing for [head] coach [Augie] Garrido at Texas taught me a lot about the mental side of the game,” Stubbs said. “The thing I took away the most was how to mentally stay in the game and prepare.”

It’s that mental toughness that has kept Stubbs going this season. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the rookie was in danger of an early season demotion.

“It was fun seeing a guy like Drew Stubbs emerge to have a good year,” Jocketty said. “Early on, we had people screaming at us to send him back to Triple-A.”

Stubbs has found a home in center field for the Reds but still has a soft spot for Austin — his home for offseason workouts.

“I like Cincinnati just fine but it’s not Texas, it’s not home,” Stubbs said. “I hope we can ride out this playoff streak as long as possible but I’m also looking forward to getting back to Austin.” 

The Cincinnati Reds are division champions for the first time in 15 years, far exceeding expectations in a Cinderella season that saw a young core of players make a name for themselves in the big leagues — including former Texas baseball star Drew Stubbs, who left Austin in 2006.

Stubbs exploded onto the major league radar this year in his first full season in the big show. He played 150 games in center field and hit 22 homers, drove in 77 runs and stole 30 bases for the National League Central champs.

The former Big 12 co-player of the year will look to extend Cincinnati’s improbable season as the Reds take on the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the MLB playoffs. While the Reds are strangers to post-season success and the team lost the series opener 4-0 on Wednesday, Stubbs knows what it’s like to take the field on the big stage.

“Playing at the university — it being one of the grandest scales in college baseball — helped me transition to pro ball because when you start playing in front of the bigger crowds some guys get mesmerized,” Stubbs said. “But my experiences in Omaha [for the College World Series] and in the postseason at Texas prepared me for this.”

Cincinnati traded for 17-year MLB veteran Jim Edmonds in August to school Stubbs on the nuances of playing center field in the pros.

“He’s a guy that I followed growing up and I appreciate the way he plays the game,” Stubbs said. “He’s been a great mentor for me.”

But Edmonds isn’t the only figure in Stubbs’ baseball career who has had a lasting impact on the way he plays the game.

“Playing for [head] coach [Augie] Garrido at Texas taught me a lot about the mental side of the game,” Stubbs said. “The thing I took away the most was how to mentally stay in the game and prepare.”

It’s that mental toughness that has kept Stubbs going this season. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the rookie was in danger of an early season demotion.

“It was fun seeing a guy like Drew Stubbs emerge to have a good year,” Jocketty said. “Early on, we had people screaming at us to send him back to Triple-A.”

Stubbs has found a home in center field for the Reds but still has a soft spot for Austin — his home for offseason workouts.

“I like Cincinnati just fine but it’s not Texas, it’s not home,” Stubbs said. “I hope we can ride out this playoff streak as long as possible but I’m also looking forward to getting back to Austin.”