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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

2010 Cincinnati Reds team preview

2009 Record: 78-84   .481

Run Differential: -50

Dusty Baker lived up to his reputation last year.  Guys love playing for him and it shows because Baker excels in consistently getting players to play hard and to frequently outperform their expectations.  Where Baker's failings lie are what gets him into hot water.  Last season he batted Willy Taveras in the leadoff spot until August despite the fact he was getting on base less than 30% of the time (Taveras finished with a .285 OBP and a .560 OPS).  Once Taveras was finally relieved of his starting duties, hot prospect Drew Stubbs took his place and put up a .323 OBP--although an improvement still not what the team should be looking for.  This also reveals another one of Baker's tendencies in that he will play the veterans until they're either traded or given 500 plate appearances to show they can't get the job done.  Though Drew Stubbs isn't going to be a great leadoff hitter, he is a significantly better player than Willy Taveras. But the real issue with Dusty is working his starters too hard.  Top starter Edinson Volquez was abused down the stretch last season and for what reason?  The guy was 25 years old and in his second major league season.  Dusty had him throw 121 pitches in one game and 110+ in six of his last seven.  His ERA in those games was 5.81 showing that he was obviously wearing down.  This resulted in Volquez tearing an elbow ligament and needing Tommy John surgery.  How much longer will Dusty be allowed to use his starters at his own discretion?

Some are calling the Reds as their sleeper team for 2010 but that seems a year premature.
This team has the building blocks necessary to become a powerhouse in a couple of years.  Young first baseman Joey Votto is one of the top hitters in the National League and could be considered the top at his position if not for that Pujols guy.  Brandon Phillips, too, is a very good second baseman who supplies pop and great defense up the middle. Young outfielders Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce are expected to show why they are so highly regarded and top prospect Yonder Alonso has been told he'll be worked out at third base this spring in hopes he can take over when Scott Rolen inevitably goes on the DL.  While these pieces provide the team with a solid offense and good defense, it's the pitching that causes excitement.  Homer Bailey made great strides last season to show why he was once considered the top pitching prospect in all of baseball.  Johnny Cueto is another young starter with loads of potential that with a little luck could be a 200 innings guy and a top end of the rotation starter. The real gem here, though, is Aroldis Chapman who is expected to break camp with the team.  If Dusty doesn't kill him too, 2011 should feature a rotation of these three plus Edinson Volquez and one of Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo.  Yes, there is lots of talent in Cincinnati.  Let's just hope Dusty Baker realizes it and doesn't go pedal to the metal for an entire year.  No one would benefit that way.

 The buzz in camp says this guy's the real deal, Chief.

Likely Opening Day Roster:
My Two Cents
Ramon Hernandez
Acquired to be a "veteran influence".  Does that work on the bench (where he belongs)?
Ryan Hanigan
Will make case to be starting catcher
Joey Votto
Seems like no one remembers how good he was last season: .322/.414/.567
Brandon Phillips
May be entering his offensive peak.  Already is an outstanding defender
Scott Rolen
Most expensive player on the team at $11 million. Expect him to be traded
Orlando Cabrera
Attitude issues have dogged him. Looking for a fresh start--again
Chris Dickerson
Very good defensive player was a rookie last season at 27. Not sure what his upside is
Drew Stubbs
Most exciting player on the team already.  Great speed. Best defensive OF in the NL?
Jay Bruce
Big time power but hasn't proven he can hit lefties & only walked 38 times last season.
Aaron Miles
Traded for Willy Taveras? Wait, really?
Todd Frazier
Not the favorite to win this job but the guy can really hit. Plays a decent 2b and can handle LF
Jonny Gomes
Think of him as a right handed Matt Stairs who doesn't walk much.
Wladimier Balentin
Needs to make the team to keep his career going since his prospect days are over.
Aaron Harang
Becoming more hittable as he ages.  Can still eat innings though
Johnny Cueto
Will he finally pitch 200 innings? I'm not sure if he can handle a full season
Homer Bailey
I think he's finally figuring it out.  I expect him to be the team's #1 starter in 2011
Bronson Arroyo
Five straight seasons of 200 innings makes him a great back end of the rotation pitcher
Aroldis Chapman
Cuban import looks fantastic so far. If he's for real will be a #1 starter
Francisco Cordero
K rate dropped significantly last season but so did ERA.  Which one is for real?
Arthur Rhodes
How old is he, 50?  In all seriousness was good last year and should continue to be so
Jared Burton
After coming off the DL last season was effective  and could be pitching 8th innings in 2010
Nick Masset
Traded for Griffey, Jr, Masset might turn out to be a capable late inning reliever
Daniel Ray Herrera
Which is harder to believe: 1) Is an effective LOOGY at 5'7" 145 or 2) he's bigger than me?
Mike Lincoln
Probably a stretch to make the team, but then again who isn't as the 7th reliever?
Micah Owings
How much longer will he be considered a pitcher only? Career .300/.331/.547 hitter in 184 PAs
DL: Edinson Volquez - Another young pitcher Dusty Baker is doing his best to ruin.  TJ surgery may cause him to miss the entire season.

Say Hello To: Orlando Cabrera, Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Miles, Chris Burke, Josh Anderson, Miguel Cairo

Wave Goodbye: Willy Taveras (FINALLY), Adam Rosales, Ramon Ramirez, Craig Tatum

Rookies: Aroldis Chapman - The dude throws HARD.

Potential Breakout: Jay Bruce - His third year in the league means this is his best chance at a breakout.

Welcome to Earth:  Scott Rolen - The defense will be fantastic but the bat is nearly dead. He no longer has any power and I'm not convinced he can hit over .280 any longer.

Likely to Rebound: Jay Bruce - He will not hit .223 ever again

Top 3 players: Votto, Volquez, Phillips

Top Prospect: Yonder Alonso 1b - Visions of moving Votto to LF to make room for Alonso are quickly dissipating.  Expect Alonso to be traded for a pitcher or impact bat in the offseason.

Prediction: 76-86  3rd place N.L. Central
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