Monday, April 5, 2010

Prediction for the Reds' Season

It's Opening Day! And in Cincinnati, that means it's a holiday. Time to review the team and predict how the Reds will do this year.

1. Pitching

a. Starting Pitching. Aaron Harang needs to rebound to the Harang we saw from 2005-2007. Bronson Arroyo will give you over two hundred innings and keep you in the game. I expect Johnny Cueto to only get better from more experience. Homer Bailey has learned that he cannot just blow the ball by people all the time and must change speeds. First round draft choice Mike Leake was a surprise, making the team without appearing in the minor leagues. But remember he played college ball.

If you look at the competition for the fifth starter, one should be optimistic about the depth of the starting pitching in the Reds organization. Leake beat out Aroldis Chapman, who might have the best stuff in the organization. And he's going to AAA. There's also Travis Wood, and Matt Maloney waiting in the wings. Oh, and don't forget about Edinson Volquez who is coming off Tommy John surgery. He should be ready by late August.

It's been some time since we could be excited about the staring pitching. But it looks like the Reds emphasis here is about to pay off.

b. Bullpen. The Reds are solid here also. All Star closer Francisco Cordero returns. Nick Masset will set up, a definite upgrade over David Weathers. Arthur Rhodes, who's forty but still gets it up there at 90 m.p.h. plus will anchor the left side of the mound.

The rest of the bullpen is decent. If Mike Lincoln makes a comeback from injury, he could be a good long man. Danny Lee Herrea may not throw hard enough to break glass but he great against lefties and his numbers are good. (3.06 ERA in 2009) Logan Ondrusek did not allow a run this spring and forced his way on the roster. Micah Owings can not only spot start, he's a very good hitter which allows Manager Dusty Baker to use him as a pinch hitter.

2. The Infield. The Reds started out last year very young. GM Walt Jocketty added two veterans over the year. Last year, he traded for Scott Rolen in a widely criticized trade. Jocketty cited his veteran leadership as the need for the trade. It worked. When he played, the team was 27-13. Reds nation, think Greg Vaughn. This year, the Reds signed Orlando Cabrera to play shortstop. Look, it's clear that Paul Janish can't hit. This is probably a stop gap for Zack Cozart or somebody else to take the job in one to two years. Brandon Phillips is only 28 and gives you speed and power at second. Though, I wish the team would not bat him fourth. Joey Votto, first baseman, is the star of the team. He hits for power and average.

Who's going to be on the bench for the infield is interesting. Why? The Reds will have to move somebody to make room for Leake on April 11, the projected day for a needed fifth starter. I don't think putting Juan Francisco on the bench is a good idea. He needs at bats and frankly is likely your third baseman or left fielder of the future. Paul Janish and Miguel Cairo are nothing to get excited about.

3. Catchers. Ramon Hernandez is a solid hitter. At 33, he will hold the job until the Reds finally are able to develop a starting catcher. Ryan Hanigan could be that guy. Good defensively.

4. The Outfield. If Jay Bruce can stop trying to pull outside pitches, he could be a future All Star. Center field is up for grabs. I like Chis Dickerson for his athleticism, but he can't stay healthy. Drew Stubbs was a first round pick on 2006 but I'm not sold on him due to the limited number of major league bats. He has surprising power which we will need to see in parks other than Great American to see if it is real. Jonny Gomes is the most underrated outfielder in baseball. He can play defense and has excellent power. Laynce Nix has power from the left side of the plate but he also has a hole in his swing that keeps him from regular playing time.

5. The Projection. Reds win the Central Division. Yes, you read that correctly. I am depending on the pitchers doing the job they've done before. Since baseball is almost always about pitching, that's a good thing. Because if Harang, Arroyo, Cueto, Bailey do their stuff, the Reds will win a lot of games.

Now, where's the big question mark? It's the outfield. The Reds will need offensive production here. And I mean hitting with runners in scoring position. If Jay Bruce can play to his potential, Jonny Gomes does what he does best and either Stubbs or Dickerson breaks out, the Reds will produce enough offense to win it all.


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