Since homering twice in the finale of the series in Pittsburgh, Jay Bruce had been mired in a slump similar to what he experienced last year. The has been batting in the .100’s nearly the whole season. However, I have seen him hit several balls hard that were hit right at fielders and several times in the Cubs series, Ryan Theriot, and Derrek Lee made several great plays on hard hit balls. Hopefully he will bounce back, because let me be clear, if Bruce does not hit well this year, the Reds offense will not be good enough to win consistently. The starting pitching has been struggling mightily, so the hitting needs to start finding some consistency.
The Reds also miss Edinson Volquez a lot. With their starting pitching ranked 11th in the national league in ERA, the starters have lacked any sort of consistency. Harang has been extremely average. Arroyo seems to have one inning bite him each year. Cueto has been erratic and had no consistency thus far. Homer Bailey has been bad with his breaking pitches and has simply had poor control even if it didnt mean walking guys. His pitches have not been where he wants them. They have missed Volquez’s ace-like mentality and his consistency. When Volquez ran out there, the Reds could count on a solid start. Mike Leake has done fine thus far, but he is still young and frankly is overachieving by just being in the majors already.
Aroldis Chapman has been burning it up in AAA. He has turned in two solid starts and would no doubt sell some serious tickets if he came up to the big leagues. He’ll get there before the season is out. It’s only a matter of time.
The Reds have lost 5 in a row, but lets not panic yet. The starting pitching has got to be more effective. But its early a 5-8 record is no reason to be alarmed. Lets wait another month.
The NL Central has no sure fire winner in 2010. However, the Cardinals appear to be the most talented team followed by the Brewers. The Reds though have potential to play themselves into contention as well.
Here is how I see the division shaking out.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
Let’s be honest. The Pirates are the consensus pick for last. Yes they have a budding all star in Andrew McCutchen who had a great rookie season last year, but they have a rotation that features Ross Ohenlendorf and Cub reject Kevin Hart.
That is simply not good enough to contend. Pedro Alvarez, the team’s top prospect, will probably get some time to play at third this season, so the two interesting things for this team will be monitoring the development of future studs Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez.
5. Houston Astros
The Astros sill have some very good players on their team. Having been perennial contendors over the last 5-6 years, the team still has the likes of ace Roy Oswalt, sweet-swinging Lance Berkman, and Carlos Lee. Hunter Pence will also look to take another step forward in 2010. The ‘Stros will be able to hit but in looking at their roster from top to bottom, they simply have too many holes to compete.
Roy Oswalt could be a blue chip summer trading piece if the team is out of contention and he could bring back good prospects in return.
4. Chicago Cubs
Cubs fans think that the departure of Milton Bradley will be a form of addition by subtraction, and it will. However that will not simply return there team to 2008 form.
They have not adjusted to the loss of Rich Harden, and with Ted Lilly out atleast a month, there rotation is set to start out Zambrano, Dempster, Wells, Gorzelanny, and who knows who else.
The back end of that rotation is simply not up to standards and Lou Piniella will have his work cut out for him closing out games as well. Carlos Marmol was atrocious last year with his control. Too many holes=not enough wins.
3. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds have perhaps the most potential in the division, but I believe they will still be a year away from putting everything together. However, I do think this is a year where the Reds will hang around and make some noise in the division. The signing of Cuban-phenom has energized the Reds base and at Spring Training all eyes will be glued on the Cuban lefty. Whether he starts in the majors or not, the Reds just may not be able to click totally this year. The loss of Edinson Volquez until mid-summer at the earliest hurts, but the Reds have plenty of young pitchers waiting in the wings. Contending or not, I think the Reds will unload Harang before 2011 so this is his last hoorah in a Reds uniform. That will allow the Reds to unload 12 million of payroll and make room for them to make key additions to what should be a solid team down the road. The Reds front office is unified in the direction is wants to go, and Votto, Phillips, Bruce, Cueto, Bailey, and Chapman give them the horses to get there.
2. Milwaukee Brewers
Braun and Fielder. Braun and Fielder. Braun and Fielder. Alcides Escobar and Yovani Gallardo. The Brewers have a great mix of established stars and young athletes coming up through the system. They get the nod for the two spot because they just simply have fewer noticable holes than the Reds or Cubs. Casey McGeehee another Cub reject will look to build on his strong rookie season, and Ricky Weeks is still looking to breakout. I think he will, and Gallardo will be a star, leading to a 2nd place National League Central finish.
1. Champion-St. Louis Cardinals
A full year with Matt Holliday and another year with one of the best hitters ever will equal a NL Central title for the Cards in 2010. Also the Cards have one of the best one two punches on the mound in baseball if both Wainwright and Carpenter stay healthy. They were both stellar last year down the stretch. Expect youngster Colby Rasmus to hit lefties better than he did last season and be a strong complement in the lineup to the power of Holliday and Pujols. Too much offense and a great rotation with the best pitching coach in the game will help the Cards overpower the rest of the NL Central.
The Reds have some pretty good fantasy players this year, headlined by Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and then Jay Bruce.
Also can guys like Chris Heisey and Drew Stubbs emerge to be strong fantasy players? I think so.
Here’s a quick look at what I think the numbers of the currents Reds would look like if the team’s roster remains the same. I’m using the 5 statistical categories for most fantasy leagues (AVG, RUN, HR, RBI, SB)
C- Ramon Hernandez 130 games .267 BA 16 HRs 44 runs 63 RBI 1 steal
C- Ryan Hanigan 45 games .271 BA 4 HRs 15 runs 15 RBI 0 steals
1B- Joey Votto 145 games .317 BA 28 HRs 81 runs 108 RBI 9 steals
2B- Brandon Phillips 155 games .276 BA 23 HRs 84 runs 96 RBI 25 steals
3B- Scott Rolen 130 games .288 BA 15 HRs 63 runs 67 RBI 4 steals
SS-Orlando Cabrera- 154 games .281 BA 14 HR 78 Runs 60 RBI 16 steals
SS- Paul Janish 125 games .240 BA 9 HRs 50 runs 38 RBI 4 steals
RF- Jay Bruce 155 games .282 BA 31 HRs 72 runs 88 RBI 8 steals
CF- Drew Stubbs 141 games .260 BA 9 HRs 85 runs 41 RBI 33 steals
LF- Chris Heisey 120 games .278 BA 14 HRs 58 runs 48 RBI 15 steals
LF- Chris Dickerson- 70 games .262 BA 7 HRs 38 runs 31 RBI 10 steals
The left field spot can be hard to predict. I honestly like Chris Heisey to beat out Chris Dickerson and Laynce Nix who I see as the other two primary contendors. Heisey has great potential and has hit at every level in the minors and could be a nice pickup mid season off the waiver wire for some owners in deep leagues.
Less than a week until Spring Training!! Go Reds
When you lose 14 of 15 games and are currently on an eight game skid, you have problems. Lets flashback to mid-May. The Reds were 6 games over .500 and had just swep the Arizona Diamondbacks in Arizona. Willie Taveras was batting .319 and the Reds pitching staff had the second lowest ERA in the National League. Now it has all evaporated.
I dont are how many injuries you have. If you lose 14 of 15, you have a problem at the top, and I mean Dusty Baker, Dick Pole, and Brook Jacoby. Dick Pole needs to be let go since we have seen the pitching staff completely implode. They seem to be getting worse instead of better, and no adjustments have been made by the pitchers. They seem to be coming into games with no gameplan.
Brook Jacoby…maybe you can blame the Reds anemic offense on injuries, but the hitters could still be better. They are extremely impatient at the plate. They hack and hack until they get themselves out.
And Dusty…I’m sorry. I’ve been defending him all season but losing 14 of 15 is pathetic and the clubhouse has obviously gotten stale . I think the team could use a new face. With some youthful enthusiasm who is a MOTIVATOR!!
I have no answers. I have no idea what has happened to this team. Maybe someone else knows because I sure don’t.
However, Go Reds!
No one in the Queen City knew if they liked Edwin Encarnacion. One day you would love the guy who went 3-5 and hit an upper deck home run, but the next day you would be frustrated to death when he threw a ball into the dugout trying to throw to first. The fact is that Encarnacion was never a consistent ball player and in turn was not a good player for playing winning baseball. He did not consistently perform at a high level which is required to sustain success.
Certain players are just winners and EE wasn’t really one of them. Kevin Youkilis, Chipper Jones, Dustin Pedroia: they are winners. They play winning baseball and don’t make little mistakes that can end up costing their team a game. They demand perfection from themselves and in turn from their teams.
Scott Rolen will serve as a leader for a young lineup. The Reds have really only had veteran leadership in the bullpen this year and that has been the best part of the club. Reds pitchers can also sleep a little easier as Rolen will provide great defense behind them. Rolen was hitting .320 with 8 homers and is making 11 million this year and is due to make 11 million next year.
He has had some back problems in recent years. Walt Jocketty’s first question to Blue Jays GM Ricciardi was is he healthy and he was assured he was. Rolen will most likely hit 4th or maybe 5th in the Reds lineup. Go Reds
No one really knows whether the Reds are buyers or sellers yet, but we are under the 72 hour mark until the trade deadline. The Reds main trade bait would be Harang, Arroyo, and Weathers or Rhodes in the bullpen.
The Reds need to keep the bullpen intact as that has been the major strength of the Reds club. Rhodes is sitting on a comfortable 2.08 era and Weathers on a 3.15 era (by the way, Paul Janish has a 49.50 era in his two relief appearances this year).
Arroyo is still a nice pitcher for anyones rotation and because of the nature of how he throws, he will be able to pitch effectively for many years to come. His fastball is complemented by a variety of off speed breaking balls. Harang on the other hand is a shadow of the 16 win pitcher he was 3 and 4 years ago. His fastball velocity is down from 93-94 mph to 89-90 miles per hour. His leg drive is also noticably weaker than it was when he was younger in his career. Since he is no longer able to throw the ball by people, he has to be able to locate his pitches better which he has often struggled with.
However Aaron Harang would still be good for a contending club and could serve as a solid third or forth starter. The Reds could trade Harang and still make an improvement to the club this year.
A good fit for Harang would be the New York Yankees who need starting pitching badly (esp. with Chien-Ming Wang out for the year).
As opposed to trading Harang for a variety of single A prospects, I think it would be smarter for Walt Jocketty to try and get one or two players in AAA who are almost ready for the major leagues. Ian Kennedy who is pitching for the Yankees AAA team and has made a few major league starts would be that tyle of player, a guy who could play this year if need be.
The Reds have explored adding Toronto Blue Jay Scott Rolen. Rolen has had a resurgence this year after battling injuries since leaving the St. Louis Cardinals. He has batted around .300 for most this year and has shown increased pop in his bat.
A Rolen package would also probably include Edwin Encarnacion but beyond that it is not known what else would be involved.
Also another package has been rumored to have been talked about with the Yankees.
Neither the Reds nor the Yankees have said if there is any truth to the rumor but the Yankees have discussed aquiring David Weathers and Aaron Harang for youngster Phillip Hughes. It seems odd that the Yankees would consider giving up their great young prospect Hughes which is why I’m unsure if this rumor has any truth to it.
The Reds are on their longest homestand of the year. The Reds really need to hang an 8-2 or better record if they are going to continue to climb back in the NL Central race that is staying tight. Go Reds!!!
Joey Votto is back and still swinging. Votto hardly missed a beat when he came back after his month layoff. Votto is collected 18 hits over his last 10 games.
Votto’s success has me comparing him to Big Red Machine great Tony Perez. He and Perez spray the ball all over the field, banging the ball off the wall. Neither were “home run hitters” but they are such good hitters they still hit the ball out of the ballpark. Why is no one talking about Votto as an ALL STAR SNUB. I know he was hurt but he is batting .364!! How can you ignore that from a guy whether he has played 2 months or 3 months.
Also Reds fans: Take a hint. Lay off Dusty Baker. A recent commenter off a reds.com news release said the following:
“Dusty Baker is clueless and has to go! I feel better now that I’ve
finally said it. I’ve said before on here that we should only pitch to
Pujols if we are up 5 runs or down 5 runs. Otherwise he should be
walked every time he steps to the plate. Some reasons Baker must go: 1.
Continuing to pitch to Pujols 2. Using a DH for Owings rather than any
one of our position players who are hitting under .240 3. Batting
Taveras at lead off 4. Letting Taveras play at all 4. Pitching Weathers
against Pujols…duh 5. An entire team that lacks fundamentals
(bunting, moving runners, patience at the plate, etc…) 6. Thinking
that Corey Patterson had major league talent 7. Playing Hernandez over
Hannigan 8. Playing Hairston over Janish 9. Not demanding that we keep
Keppinger 10. Pitching to Pujols yet again…. arrgghhhhh!!!!“
I cannot disagree with the first reason, but Albert Pujols is the best hitter ever in my opinion. As far as the second reason, everytime a pinch hitter comes into the game, he is not going to get a hit and when that player does get out Dusty Baker is not to blame! Willie Taveras ought to bat first or second. He is just in a slump let him get out of it.
For the fourth reason, this commenter is just ridiculous, Taveras might be the fastest person in the game. As for the commenters second number four (impressive) NO ONE has good numbers against Pujols. No matter who you bring in, Pujols still has a great chance getting a hit.
Fifth, the team is getting better defensively and is near the top in the NL in sacrificesSixth, Baker was not the idiot who signed Corey Patterson, after all he does have big league talent (or used to) as he was once another top Cubs prospect. Seventh, both are great talents and deserve to play (no argument there).
Hairston over Janish?? Come on Janish bobbled the ball that loaded the bases before Pujols hit the grand slam. That would have been the third out. Jeff Keppinger is an average utility man . And you have to pitch to Pujols with the bases loaded.
Reds fans need to chill. Dusty is not the one out there not hitting. That is on the players. The Reds need to add another bat and with more talent, Baker can lead any team to the playoffs.
Ill give Walt Jocketty a hint on a bat to add. (see below). GO REDLEGS!!