How are things looking for the Reds this year? Not looking too bad in the NL Central race.
The lineup has a question mark at the top, although it will likely be filled by Ryan Freel, if he can stay healthy that is. The rest of the lineup seems quite solid. Jeff Keppinger could fill in for Alex Gonzalez and turn out to be a pretty good hitter. Last year in limited AB's Keppinger hit over .300. Ken Griffey Jr, Adam, Dunn, Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce could make the lineup one of the scarier lineups in the National League. The Reds have a lot of power in the lineup, but also a lot of strikeouts. Brandon Phillips is the best hitter on the team and hits for average, power, knocks in runs, and steals bases. Look for Brandon Phillips to have another huge year, and the Reds to score a bundle of runs, especially with 81 games at Great American Launching Pad.
The Reds have one of the best pitcher in the NL in Aaron Harang, althoug not much is behind him. Bronson Arroyo will be in the second spot of the rotation, although he is more like a third starter. Homer Bailey will be in the rotation, and he has all the talent in the world. Bailey will need to learn to control his pitches more, not just location, but location in the strike zone. Most believe him to be one of the top prospects in terms of pitching. The rest of the rotation will be filled out with Josh Fogg who was recently signed by the Reds and Matt Belisle. Belisle is a guy who has talent but has yet to put it all together and be an effective pitcher in the majors. Volquez is a good prospect that the Reds acquired in the Josh Hamilton deal with Texas, he could crack the starting rotation (thanks for the reminder Zinger).
The bullpen was killer for the Reds last year. They blew more leads than just about anyone in the league. The bullpen has been upgraded with the signing of Francisco Cordero. He is a good closer, but not one that immediately comes to mind when thinking of dominant closers. How this really helps the Reds is moving everyone in the bullpen to a sooner role, including David Weathers who was the closer last year. What is really concerning is the Reds still have Mike Stanton on the team...he just turned 102. One guy to look out for the in the Reds bullpen is Jared Burton. The kid came in last year and pitched the 8th inning quite well. He has good stuff including a live fastball. He was taking a rule 5 player, and could be a serious contributor.
Overall the Reds pitching is not that good, although I think Harang is one of the better pitchers in the NL.
Question mark: Defense
Griffey is not the defender he used to be and Adam Dunn is now the worst fielder in the game (thanks to Bonds no longer playing in the MLB). Jay Bruce is supposed to be a pretty good defender although he is probably better as a corner outfielder than a centerfielder (and it is unclear if Bruce will start with the BIg Club). Ryan Freel plays great defense wherever he plays, which is a plus for the Reds. Last year Brandon Phillips played GG caliber defense, and will most likely do the same again at 2B. Edwin Encarncion had his issues at 3B last year committing a bundle of errors, but he improved once he was recalled, hopefully he makes a serious commitment to defense. Jeff Keppinger is an average defender and his bat is what got him his chance. Joey Votto was supposed to be a great hitter with defense as his weakness. Looking at him last year I believed he was an average fielding 1B with the tools to be better than that. The Reds will use David Ross and Javier Valentin behind the plate. Ross is the better defender and Valentin is the better hitter. Ross will most likely start the majority of the games, with Valentin continuing to pinch hit and give Ross the occassional day off. The defense is probably average at best, and poor at worst, not a real strength.
1. Ryan Freel CF
2. Jeff Keppinger SS
3. Ken Griffey Jr. RF
4. Brandon Phillips 2B
5. Adam Dunn LF
6. Edwin Encarnacion 3B
7. Joey Votto 1B
8. David Ross C
9. Aaron Harang P
Of course Votto could move up the lineup depending on production, the Reds and their fans just have to hope that Dusty allows Joey to play everyday.
The Reds have a good lineup and a suspect pitching staff. The NL Central is not a great division, but will be competitive. The Reds have a chance to compete in 2008 but will most likely finish behind the Cubs and Brewers in the division. The Reds are continuing to improve and the prospects are now becoming MLB ready. The future appears to be bright in Reds country...for the first time in a while.
Win Projection: 80-82