MLB Team-By-Team Previews 2009: Cincinnati Reds

MLB Team-By-Team Previews: The Reds Have Gotten Younger, And Now Look Like A Sleeper

4/2/09 in MLB   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

The Reds sure got young fast. Cincinnati officially closed the Griffey/Dunn era by trading both during the season. What remains though is some excellent young talent on both sides of the ball, guided under the leadership of Walt Jocketty, who signed on in April. Can that talent take a leap forward to contention, or are there still some weaknesses that need patched up first?

Key Losses: Ryan Freel, Corey Patterson, Jeremy Affleldt

Key Additions
: Ramon Hernandez, Willy Tavares, Arthur Rhodes

Projected Lineup:
CF Willy Tavares
LF Jerry Hairston, Jr.
1B Joey Votto
2B Brandon Phillips
RF Jay Bruce
3B Edwin Encarnacion
C Ramon Hernandez
SS Alex Gonzalez

Projected Rotation:
Aaron Harang
Edinson Volquez
Bronson Arroyo
Johnny Cueto
Micah Owings

Closer: Francisco Cordero

Strengths: Joey Votto broke out in the second half of 2008, and this year the Reds hope Jay Bruce breaks out with him. Bruce started out hot, but struggled most of the season, especially against lefties (.190/.263/.299). His minor league numbers don’t suggest such putridity as a whole. If Bruce adjusts as expected, he joins Votto, Phillips, and Encarnacion as a solid offense core.

Aaron Harang is an ace in name only now after Edinson Volquez’s 3.21 ERA break out year. Given the dimensions of Great American Ballpark, that might be unsustainable, but even a small drop off results in a good pitcher. To use an analogy, what Joey Votto is to Volquez, Jay Bruce is to Johnny Cueto. Cueto’s issue in his propensity to give up the long ball, a problem at GABP. Otherwise, the two young Dominicans could team up with veterans Harang and Arroyo to provide a fine starting four.

Just about every member of the bullpen, from closer Cordero to Jared Burton to Bill Bray to even Arthur Rhodes, can throw strikes and whiff people. This is a plus when you play in a bandbox.

Weaknesses: Dusty Baker doesn’t really learn. One year after the disaster that was Corey Patterson: Leadoff Man (.238 OBP in almost 400 PAs), Baker has decided to go with Willy Tavares. Tavares can run and steal bases, but you can’t steal first and last year Tavares hit .251/.308/.296. In Coors Field. #2 hitter Jerry Hairston, Jr. is not known for his on base prowess either. Translation: Don’t expect many ducks on the pond for Votto.

Harang is supposed to be the veteran anchor of the rotation, but last year his ERA went up over a full point. The turning point of his season was a rare relief appearance May 25th. After that came “forearm stiffness” and a trip to the DL. If Harang’s not healthy, the Reds might have to turn to Owings, who’s still better than hitting than pitching, or hope that Homer Bailey can finally figure out the majors.

Players to Watch: Bruce. The Reds have the park to score runs, but with the black holes at the top, they’ll need Bruce to find his power stroke in the bigs and join Votto as a 1-2 punch.

Projection: There’s a lot to like here, but for whatever reason, I’m hesitant to predict a top of the line finish for the Reds. I am comfortable saying that they are not at the Cubs level yet, but will be better than the Pirates and Astros. I’ll split the difference and say 80-82 and 4th in the NL Central, but if things break right it could easily be better than that.

What are your thoughts on the 2009 Cincinnati Reds?
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4/3/09   |   primo   |   1 respect

WhoDat12 wrote:
They had a big bat with Adam Dunn....ohhhhhh, you mean a big bat that doesnt strike out 200+ times a year and commits errror after error after error. My mistake!

lol. how about a big bat that can drive in runs besides hitting solo homeruns

4/3/09   |   CMor25

WhoDat12 wrote:
The Reds can surprise some people. They lack the "big bat" but a strong rotation can carry you a long way. Volquez has Cy Young quality stuff. I would love to see him and Lincecum pitch against each other.

Volquez will have that Cy Young stuff until Dusty makes him throw another 200+ innings...He did it to Kerry and Prior...he is just terrible with young talent...he is completely the wrong manager for this team...

4/3/09   |   WhoDat12   |   2252 respect

The Reds can surprise some people. They lack the "big bat" but a strong rotation can carry you a long way. Volquez has Cy Young quality stuff. I would love to see him and Lincecum pitch against each other.

4/3/09   |   WhoDat12   |   2252 respect

primo wrote:
nice rotation. but still need that big bat

They had a big bat with Adam Dunn....ohhhhhh, you mean a big bat that doesnt strike out 200+ times a year and commits errror after error after error. My mistake!

4/3/09   |   primo   |   1 respect

Michael_G wrote:
 Just put Micah Owings in the 4th slot

or sign dontrelle willis as a hitter than a pitcher

4/3/09   |   Michael_G   |   37874 respect

primo wrote:
nice rotation. but still need that big bat

 Just put Micah Owings in the 4th slot

4/2/09   |   MarkTheShark   |   590 respect

WhoDey wrote:
I had them in the playoffs last year.  (And somewhat random, but I literally have $5,000 riding on Tampa winning the 2014 World Series, and I made that bet two years ago.)

But anyway, I have the Reds as the wild card this year.

You're a crazy man Justin..lol

4/2/09   |   CMor25

MarkTheShark wrote:
Really?! Breakout to the tune of AL Champs..I find that VERY hard to believe. I think most astute fans saw something in the Rays last spring to think ok maybe .500 ...hey maybe 85 wins but 97!?...come on

//
as for the Reds ..they are confounding...I think they COULD be awful...that pitching rotation is really shaky, so the bats better come every night

yes, i did predict .500 ball, excuse me, for the miscommunication...I actually expected them to do this well, this year...

4/2/09   |   WhoDey   |   6 respect

MarkTheShark wrote:
Really?! Breakout to the tune of AL Champs..I find that VERY hard to believe. I think most astute fans saw something in the Rays last spring to think ok maybe .500 ...hey maybe 85 wins but 97!?...come on

//
as for the Reds ..they are confounding...I think they COULD be awful...that pitching rotation is really shaky, so the bats better come every night

I had them in the playoffs last year.  (And somewhat random, but I literally have $5,000 riding on Tampa winning the 2014 World Series, and I made that bet two years ago.)

But anyway, I have the Reds as the wild card this year.

4/2/09   |   MarkTheShark   |   590 respect

CMor25 wrote:
I picked the Rays last year as the breakout team, and this year the Reds are my choice, but I'm not as sure about it as I was about the Rays.

Really?! Breakout to the tune of AL Champs..I find that VERY hard to believe. I think most astute fans saw something in the Rays last spring to think ok maybe .500 ...hey maybe 85 wins but 97!?...come on

//
as for the Reds ..they are confounding...I think they COULD be awful...that pitching rotation is really shaky, so the bats better come every night

4/2/09   |   CMor25

tpowell25 wrote:
There are some key holes in the team, and the pitching staff is very iffy, but it's not hard to look at this team and think they might be the 2009 version of Tampa Bay.  Sure, it's a long shot.  But so were the Rays.

This isn't a bad squad at all.  If this team can gel together and play .500 or better on the road, they might just surprise some people this season.

I picked the Rays last year as the breakout team, and this year the Reds are my choice, but I'm not as sure about it as I was about the Rays.

4/2/09   |   CMor25

Also, there are rumors that D-Bake will get his fill of another 'roider in the Bonds mold...The Reds are supposedly interested in Sheff as long as he'll take a limited role... sports.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2009/news/story

4/2/09   |   mangoman14

i still wish they never got rid of griffey jr

4/2/09   |   fred77008   |   17 respect

I am diggin' the Cincinnati love.

4/2/09   |   tpowell25   |   1627 respect

There are some key holes in the team, and the pitching staff is very iffy, but it's not hard to look at this team and think they might be the 2009 version of Tampa Bay.  Sure, it's a long shot.  But so were the Rays.

This isn't a bad squad at all.  If this team can gel together and play .500 or better on the road, they might just surprise some people this season.

4/2/09   |   primo   |   1 respect

nice rotation. but still need that big bat

4/2/09   |   Raider_Dave   |   47 respect

Well done Eric.  Votto, Bruce, Phillips, and so on.  The Reds are suddenly loaded with good young talent.  They are in a tough division, but they will be very competitive this season, and should be serious contenders before too long.