The Reds were the best offense in the national league this season. They led the NL in hits, Runs, homers, RBIs, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. You certainly wouldnt expect that team to get no hit. But they did.The Reds committed the fewest errors in the National league this season. They shattered their own franchise record set by the Big Red Machine for fewest errors in a season. In fact, they shattered that record by committing 22 fewer errors than ever before. Brandon Phillips committed 3 errors all season. He almost equaled that Friday night in game 2 of the NLDS. Scott Rolen committed only 8 but he muffed the ball like a nervous rookie.
Also everyone talks about not wanting to slow down the game of baseball with replay. Well the MLB needs to figure out a way to get their plays right just like the NBA and NFL have done. Because the fact is, this post season, they have been getting plays wrong. The ball did not hit Chase Utley by his own admission. He was out at second on a force from third baseman Scott Rolen, and by all accounts, the umpires cost the Reds atleast one run in a crucial game 2 in Philadelphia.
In 2007, the Phillies were swept out of the playoffs in their first appearance in years.
As Jason Stark put it, maybe some day, in October 2013, we’ll be talking about the Reds. Maybe some day, a team this young and talented will grow together to understand exactly what it takes to close out October baseball games it absolutely has to win.
But not yet. Not on this night. Not this year. Not on this baseball field. On the kind of gorgeous October evening they’d dreamed about all their lives, they went out and made history Friday. But once again, this sure wasn’t the kind of history they’d scripted in those dreams.
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
Vote for Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips for the All-Star game. All Reds fans must vote and vote often. Let’s get out guys in the All-Star game!!!!
VOTE VOTTO and PHILLIPS. Both are very deserving. The play speaks for itself.
VOTE VOTTO and PHILLIPS
The Reds of 2009 will look a lot different than the Reds of 2008. The team is faster, better defensively and fundamentally, and better overall I believe.
REDS PLAYER TO WATCH: Johnny Cueto. The 22 year old hurler has devastating stuff. Last year in his first full year with the Major League club. He started off brilliantly but as a whole the season was one of highs and lows. He is not far away from being a dominant pitcher every time he takes the hill. Cueto needs to cut down on his pitch count in order to become more efficient, enabling himself to go deeper into the ballgames.
As I watched the Reds play this Spring, it was obvious that the most important key to their offense will be that Willie Taveras and Chris Dickerson will need to get on consistantly at the top of the order so they can use their speed.
2009 should be a very exciting year to watch the Reds find their identity and hopefully in turn win a lot of ballgames. Go Reds
Let me be clear: I think the Reds are still away from being a solid year-long contender in the NL Central and in the playoffs. However, the Reds are very much improved, and Walt Jocketty has done a very good jobs of filling holes for the Reds.
Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Bruce, Cueto, Volquez, and even Chris Dickerson comprise one of the best young corp of players in major league baseball.
The Reds have found their leadoff hitter in Willie Taveras, who was non-tendered by the Rockies in the offseason. Taveras can keep constant pressure on the opposing defense by getting on base and using his blazing speed. He will most likely be followed by Chris Dickerson or possible Jerry Hairston Jr. if he wins the left field job. Both of those men have good speed and skills on the basepaths. Taveras and Dickerson would comprise a solid top of the order if and only if they can consistently get on base. Votto will bat third. He is the Reds best hitter and I fully expect him to hit .300 with 25 HR’s and around 100 RBI’s. Phillips will bat fourth and I maintain that he is not an ideal clean-up hitter. However, he is everything else you want in a baseball player: a great teammate, a 30-30 guy, and a defensive juggernaut. Bruce will bat 5th and needs to continue to improve his plate discipline to decrease his strikeouts.
Next will follow Edwin Encarnacion (All I will say is that I’m still hoping he can put it all together). Then in the bottom third of the order will be recently aquired Ramon Hernandez then Alex Gonzalez and the pitchers spot.
For the pitching rotation, Harang’s resurgeance is key as Volquez and Cueto will continue to develop into stars. Arroyo is also steady and will pitch 200 innings with 12-15 wins. I hope Bailey wins the 5th spot. He seems to be now more willing to accept coaching and he has been keeping the ball down in Spring, thanks to improved control on his fastball and curveball. In the bullpen, Fransisco Cordero has had a less than impressive spring. I think he will turn in another steady year though. Bray, Burton, and Arthur Rhodes will comprise the other three main options in the pen.
Cincinnati’s team has moved from one known for tremendous power and lackluster pitching to one with solid pitching and great team speed and defense up the middle. Taveras, Gonzalez, and Phillips definitely help pitchers breath a little more easily this year.
I hope the Reds compete this year, but honestly I think its going to take one more season, and next year the Reds will be a force in the NL Central. Go Reds!