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5 Burning Questions

Simply put, it's a good time to be a Reds fan.

Can anyone remember a better Opening Weekend than the one we just witnessed? Short of a no-hitter or someone hitting for the cycle, the last three Reds games took us on all-stops tour of baseball delicacy, somehow managing to deliver us home safely on Sunday, happy and full.

Between Ramon Hernandez' walk-off homer on Opening Day, to Travis Wood serving notice to the baseball community on Saturday("Yo…I'm pretty FREAKING good."), to Sunday's lopsided artillery display (the Reds pounded out 12 runs on 19 hits), the weekend's action was as diverse as it was satisfying.

While it's obviously true that three games are, well, JUST three games, we'd be remiss as baseball fanatics if we didn't break from recharging our batteries to take a quick inventory.

Here are a few questions to ponder as we await the Houston series…

1. Has the light come on for Drew Stubbs?

I'll say this now so I don't have to say it again: I'm completely aware that three games is a TINY sample. Please don't assume I am trying to make definitive statements here, or that I think we can even begin to understand the make-up of this team, simply by watching a weekend of baseball.

We can't.

With that said, HOW ABOUT DREW STUBBS?

Three games, five hits, and a slugging percentage of 1.000. However, it's not even his numbers that impress me, it's his approach.

More often than not, in 2010 Stubbs would seem lost at the plate, especially in the leadoff role. However, so far he is settling into the role, taking more pitches, and making better decisions. We don't need Stubbs to morph into a Juan Pierre-type leadoff guy who slaps singles and otherwise just runs fast. Instead, Stubbs is showing what he can do just by being HIMSELF, and so far it's been scary.

Stubbs has always been a "toolsy" type player who would one day get it. No one thought that day would come so soon, and it's still hard to know if it has. Yet, is anyone upset about Stubbs in the 1 hole tomorrow night?

I'm not.

2. Volquez...Should we be worried?

In a word, YES.

I was concerned when it was reported that Dusty Baker handed Volquez the Opening Day start. I had my reasons, all of which remain valid today, but the most pressing was that Volquez got blown to smithereens last time he took the mound.

Without regurgitating the sour, rancid mess that was the NLDS Game One (where the Phillies jumped on Volquez like hyenas on a bleeding gazelle), suffice it to say that Volquez hadn't done anything lately to DESERVE the start, but Dusty gave it to him anyway.

So, like the rest of Reds Nation, I approached Opening Day with the same why-do-I-still-have-any-faith-in-this-guy trepidation I had in October, and the results were virtually the same.

No command, no poise, NO-GOOD.

It's entirely possible that Volquez shakes off the Opening Day jitters, pulls his flat-billed hat on straight, and pumps out 17 wins like a few years back. However, I'll go on record and say he won't.

My guess is it takes this year and possibly next for Volquez to truly figure out how to harness his stuff – which, to be fair, is nasty. Luckily for the Reds, they have others vying for the ace slot. One of those guys pitched Saturday night and ohbytheway…he's pretty good.


To read my full article on Bleacher Report, go HERE. I promise you it's better than staring at that excel spreadsheet.


Dave Sappelt: Now just a faint memory - It pains me to announce that Dave Sappelt has officially been sent packing, literally. In sending Sappelt to Louisville to work on baseball fundamentals, Dusty Baker and Co. basically set the precedent that registering a batting average of BAJILLION doesn't make up for occasionally getting picked off.

I'm not sure I completely agree.

Somehow, the Reds managed without him this weekend, laying about 50 runs on Milwaukee's face and destroying any notion the Brewers may have had about not starting the season 0 and 3. For now, I'll suspend the Sappelt watch, but look for it to continue later in the season, should he continue to outhit the rest of his team combined, or should Jonny Gomes continue to be Jonny Gomes.

Reed Domer-Shank 4-5-2011

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