Can the Cincinnati Reds be a Force in the National League Central?
Perhaps the biggest signing the Reds made this offseason was of Cuban defector, Aroldis Chapman. Chapman had a very good spring and quickly established himself as one of the organizations best young arms. However, Chapman broke camp in the Reds minor league system and figures to stay there so he can adjust slowly to the things that go with being a professional player. The other big addition is Orlando Cabrera, who takes over at shortstop and forms quite the double play duo with Brandon Phillips.
Edison Voloquez - lost for the season to Tommy John's surgery
CF - Drew Stubbs
SS - Orlando Cabrera
1B - Joey Votto
2B - Brandon Phillips
3B - Scott Rolen
RF - Jay Bruce
C - Ramon Hernandez
LF - Chris Dickerson
INF - Aaron Miles
C - Ryan Hanigan
OF - Lance Nix
OF - Johnny Gomes
INF - Paul Janish
OF - Wladimir Balentien
Closer - Francisco Cordero
Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips - There is no doubt that the Reds have a nice young nucleus to build around. With Votto, Bruce and Phillips in the middle of the lineup, the Reds will look for there young talent to improve on there 2009 years
Bullpen - Francisco Cordero is as good as it gets as a closer and he anchors a bullpen that is experienced and always throwing alot of innings. The Reds will need guys like Cueto, Bailey and Lehr to hold there own in starts or the bullpen will risk being overtaxed early and often by Dusty Baker.
Defense - With gold glovers Scott Rolen and Orlando Cabrera anchoring the left side of the field and 2009 gold glover Brandon Phillips at second base, the Reds will have one of the best infields defensively. If the pitching staff can keep the ball in the park, the defense behind them should help them alot more then in years past.
The rotation - With Edison Voloquez out for the year with Tommy John's, Aaron Harang takes over as the ace of the staff. Can Harang return to the form where he had back to back 16 win seasons or will he continue to struggle? Bronson Arroyo is an innings eater but is as inconsistent as they come. Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey should continue to improve but still are young and vulnerable to struggles. Jim Lehr is the Reds 5th starter but if he struggles and Aroldis Chapman aces his minor league tests, expect the young Cuban to be in Cincinnati sooner then later
Outfield - Alot of pressure will be on players like Chris Dickerson and Drew Stubbs to contribute. Should those two players struggle, the Reds dont have alot of depth on there bench or in there farm system to save them. If any of the starters should get hurt and are forced to be out for a long period of time, the Reds will struggle to keep up with the rest of the NL Central
If....and that is a huge IF....the Reds can stay healthy, they have the talent to finish the season over .500 and as the 3rd best team in the NL Central. That said, with the likes of Votto, Bruce, Chapman, Bailey and Cueto emerging as the cornerstones of the future and the flame-throwing Volquez on schedule to return from Tommy John surgery in 2011, the Reds are at least a year away from serious contention in the division