Baseball Preview: Cincinnati Reds
Last year’s record and finish are in parenthesis with projected improvement/decline indicated by plus or minus.
Cincinnati Reds (80-82, 3rd in NL Central) -10 games
Get Crunked: Adam Dunn is one of the premier sluggers in the league, and he also walks a ton, making for a good overall combination. Despite injuries last year, Edwin Encarnacion is an emerging player at 3B, and Brandon Phillips came on strong at 2B last year. Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang provide a good 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation.
Party Foul: Ken Griffey Jr. is already hurt, Ryan Freel will get hurt, and Edwin Encarnacion needs to keep from getting hurt. The middle of the lineup isn’t as stacked as it used to be, and the pitching isn’t good enough to offset the loss in offense. Oh yeah, and there’s still no closer. Big problem.
What’d my GM do: He locked up Aaron Harang for four years at $36.5 mil, not a bad price tag compared to what some of the other pitchers are getting. Former #1 overall pick Josh Hamilton was acquired in a low risk/high reward proposition. Alex Gonzalez was signed for 3 years to play some good defense and fill the Felipe Lopez hole at shortstop. Mike Stanton was signed for two years, and he’s still an effective lefty out of the pen.
Lay it on me Straight: This team got lucky last year. The fact that they were in the playoff hunt was due to two factors, their luck, and the lack of good teams in the division. This year Reds fans will see their team regress to where they should’ve been last year. Oh yeah, the bullpen still blows after getting ripped off in the Austin Kearns trade.
So where my boys gonna finish right now: Much farther below .500 than last year, nowhere near the playoff race. Where they finish within the division depends on how Milwaukee, Houston, and Pittsburgh do, but I’m thinking 4th or 5th is a safe spot.
Can we be better than that: The luck ran out last year, so no, expect a lot worse.