Cincinnati Reds Last Year: 74-88 5th in NL Central This Year: 3rd in NL Central
After years of talks of doing so the Reds finally rid themselves of Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. While both great players the team needed to get away from the defensively inept Dunn and the aging, oft-injured Griffey. They could contribute but they were in the way of the total rebuilding process that needed to be undertaken. This team has a lot of young super prospects and they are ready to bloom this year. There is thought that this team could be the Rays of this year but I think they are still a year away. However I thought the Rays were a year away last year.
Opening Day Lineup w/Projections CF Willy Taveras .283 1 HR 25 RBI 74 SB LF Chris Dickerson .275 17 HR 64 RBI 22 SB 1B Joey Votto .307 28 HR 97 RBI 2B Brandon Phillips .267 25 HR 93 RBI 19 SB RF Jay Bruce .296 33 HR 104 RBI 3B Edwin Encarnacion .264 23 HR 78 RBI C Ramon Hernandez .263 15 HR 65 RBI SS Alex Gonzalez .264 9 HR 52 RBI P Aaron Harang
Rotation RHP Aaron Harang 14-10 4.14 ERA 192 K RHP Edinson Volquez 15-10 3.45 ERA 197 K RHP Bronson Arroyo 11-12 4.79 ERA 157 K RHP Johnny Cueto 10-11 3.79 ERA 189 K RHP Micah Owings 6-9 4.45 ERA 117 K
CP RHP Francisco Cordero 3.13 ERA 38 SV 73 K
Best Case Scenario: Bruce and Votto break out and become MVP like hitters hitting .315-40-120 each. Harang returns to form after a subpar year and gives the team a solid 200+ innings. Volquez continues to pitch at a Cy Young level and Cueto becomes consistent and is an All-Star. Taverez gets on base and steals more bases than Jose Reyes. This team finishes above .500 for the 1st time since 2000 and contends for the division title and wild card into September.
Worst Case Scenario: Harang continues to disappoint with an ERA in the 5.00's. Volquez gets humbled and struggles with control. Cueto struggles to keep his ERA under 5.00. Owings fails and then Homer Bailey comes in and officially becomes a bust. Bruce strikes out to much and hits around .270. Taveras hits around .240. This team finishes under .500 again and finishes in 5th place in the division.
Player Most Important to Success: Aaron Harang. It would seem likely to pick one of the major prospects like Bruce, Votto, Cueto or Volquez but Harang is the biggest piece to the puzzle. In 2006 and 2007 he won 16 games each year for a terrible Reds team with an ERA around 3.70. He pitched 230 innings in both years. He followed that up in 2008 by going 6-17 with an ERA of 4.78 in only 184 innings. This team has young outstanding pitching but every staff needs a reliable ace. Harang needs to be that ace. If he can go out every fifth game and give 7-8 quality innings that will take the pressure off the bullpen and Cueto, Owings and Volquez. He is only 30 this year so he should still have a couple more All-Star years left in him. If he returns to form this team will have a very good rotation to go with their powerful middle of the lineup.
Outlook: This team has a lot of young super-talents. Bruce is 21, Votto is 25, Encarnacion is 26, Cueto is 23 and Volquez is 25. Homer Bailey is a borderline flop but he is still only 22. This team is on the road to success. The question is whether it comes this year. I think Votto is ready to break out this year but I think it will still be another year till Bruce truly breaks out the .320-40-130 line he is capable of. That said if Harang comes back and Volquez and Cueto build off of last year this is a very dangerous team. They aren't ready to rocket like the Rays but a 90-win season is not out of the question for this team. They are a young, exciting team that will be really fun to watch this summer.