Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Cincinnati Reds 2012 Preview

The 2012 Cincinnati Reds are all in. They gave up vaunted prospects, Yonder Alonzo and Yasmani Grandal for starting pitcher Mat Latos of the San Diego Padres. (Pictured.) They traded young starting left hander pitcher Travis Wood for Chicago Cubs middle reliever Sean Marshall. Trading all those top prospects are a sign the Reds want to win this year and next year. No coincidence, this all matches the two years that the Reds will have 2010 MVP Joey Votto. So how will the Reds do this year? It's time for the Reds preview.

1. PITCHING. You can['t win championships without pitching. And the Reds have improved themselves in this area.

a. Starting Pitching

The Reds have three solid starters in Johnny Cueto (9-5; 2.31 ERA), Mike Leake (12-9; 3.86) and Mat Latos (9-14; 3.47). Latos is a solid power arm. If Johnny Cueto pittches all year, he will make the All Star team. Leake is a ground ball pitcher and keeps you in games all season long. Three solid starting pitchers can win games. Ask the Oakland A's of the early part of this century.

The last two spots are problematic. Bronson Arroyo (9-12; 5.07) was dreadful last year. Mononucleosis drained him. But because of his contract, he makes the rotation. The last spot is up for grabs. Homer Bailey (9-7; 4.43) must have better command of his pitches. So far this spring, he's not showing it. But Bailey's out of options. Also vying for that spot, is flame throwing left hander Aroldis Chapman aka "The Cuban Missile." He has two great pitches but needs a third one to be a starter. If the Reds don't trade Bailey look for him to make the rotation and send Chapman to the minors.

b. The Bullpen. The Reds signed former Phillies closer Ryan Madson. That turned out bad when Madson went on the season ending DL and will get Tommy John surgery.

The Reds will likely move excellent setup man Sean Marshall (2.26 ERA; 5 SV) in the closer's role. Nick Masset has filthy stuff but will start the season on the DL. Bill Bray is solid as the bullpen's best left hander. Look for tall Logan Ondrusek to put up great numbers. Sam LeCure will keep the team in games.


a. First Base. Joey Votto. Hits for power, average and with runners in scoring in position. Fields his position. Enough said.

b. Second Base. Brandon Phillips. Hits for average. Has pop in his bat. can steal a base. Spectacular fielder. Enough said.

c. Shortstop. Zack Cozart. Okay, he only played eleven games before needing Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing arm. But from what I saw, he wants the position. Great heart. Makes contact at the plate. You hope that he's no fluke.

d. Third Base. Scot Rolen will be 37 this year. But it's not the age that's affecting him, it's the injuries. If he can play 100 games well, the Reds will be in it. Savvy hitter and can field his position. Knock on wood that he stays healthy.

e. Catcher. Devin Mesoraco is an upcoming prospect who will get his chance this year. He's an excellent defensive catcher and has some pop in his bat. Future All-Star. Ryan Hanigan will back him up and get plenty of playing time. Another good defensive catcher and can ocasionally hit.


a. Left field.
It looks like Ryan Ludwick. Will the Res get the 2008 Ludwick (.299; 33 HR) or last year's model. (.237; 13 HR) Ludwick had been playing a lot of the last couple years in San Diego's Grand Canyon of a ballpark. At the Reds home of Great American Ballpark, expect him to thrive. If he falters, there's the power hitting Chirs Heisey.

b. Center field. Drew Stubbs. I'm pretty tired of the excessive strikeouts. Sorry you saberheads. (Sabermetrics fanatics) Can't get on base with an error or hit if you don't make contact. Can't drive in runs with a strikeout.

c. Right Field. Jay Bruce. Cannon for an arm. Can hit for power and average. But he must avoid breaking balls low and away.

4. THE BENCH. Solid utilityman Miguel Cairo comes back. Todd Frazier will make the team since he plays all infield positions and has had a great spring. He can also play the outfield. Wilson Valdez will back up Cozrt at shortstop. Valdez's claim to fame? Pitched on the mound for the Phillies when they beat the Reds in nineteen innings. He got the win.

CONCLUSION. The St. Louis Cardinals have lost their superstar Albert Pujols. The Milwaukee Brewers have lost their big thumper in Prince Fielder. So the NL Central is up for grabs. And all this stuff about the division being weak is meaningless since the Cardinals won the World Series last year coming from the weak Central.

For the Reds to succeed, they need good starting pitching. They need Drew Stubbs to put the ball in play. And the Reds as a team must hit with runners in scoring position.

Here's my prediction. The Reds have talent. Look for them to win the Central. And perhaps they win the World Series.

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