The Cincinnati Reds have been struggling for a while now. There last winning season was in 2000 and the last time they made the playoffs was in 1995. Well those numbers aren’t Pittsburgh Pirates bad, but it is a pretty long drought for a team that in the 70’s was used to making the playoffs every year. Is 2010 the year that either or both of those streaks are broken?
The Reds didn’t lose a many players this off season. . The only starter lost was center fielder Willy Taveras. Tavares was a disappointment last season with only 25 stolen bases, he stole 68 in 2008. He also struggled with an on base percentage of just .275. When you don’t hit for power you at least have to get on base to be some kind of threat.
New to the Reds this season will be shortstop Orlando Cabrera. Cabrera has been a hired gun recently as he has bounced around from Los Angeles to Chicago to Oakland and then to Minnesota. One thing Cabrera brings is playoff experience and he may help this young offense understand what it takes to make the playoffs. He also has the ability to drive in around 75 runs in a season.
The biggest surprise of the off season was provided by the Reds when they signed Cuban pitching phenom Aroldis Chapman. Cincinnati signed the 22 year old to a five year, $30 million contract. The lefty will probably not start the season with the Reds, but with this kind of investment by the club I wouldn’t expect him to be in the minors for very long.
The offense will be led by Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, and Scott Rolen. Phillips is one of the best second baseman in the National League. He is both a speed and a power threat and has the ability to drive in 100 runs. Bruce still had the power last year, but struggled with a batting average of just .223. Votto had another solid season with 25 home runs and a .322 batting average. Rolen will be in his first full season in Cincinnati and just needs to stay healthy. He hasn’t had 500 at bats in a season since 2004. When on the field Rolen is a Gold Glove caliber third baseman.
The pitching rotation will be the same as it was supposed to be last season. Edinson Volquez will be trying to come back from elbow surgery. Johnny Cueto will need to improve on his on his 11-11 record from a season ago. Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang are serviceable veteran starters, but nothing more. Homer Bailey isn’t the prospect he once was, but could still shake out as a decent third or fourth starter.
The bullpen is solid and led by closer Francisco Cordero who had 39 saves and was an all star in 2009. Arthur Rhodes, Mike Lincoln, and Micah Owings will also have spots in the bullpen.
The Reds have a lot of young talent on both sides of the ball, though a few of them took a step backwards in their development in 2009. If the Reds can stay healthy I think they could make some noise in the NL Central. Prediction: 81-81 in third place in NL Central.