It's been a long time since we Reds fans have had reason to cheer, but that will change this season.
Cincy's got a very good, young group of talent that will begin contributing this season. The Lineup will be potent again this year with Adam Dunn (40 HR's, 106 RBI's), Ken Griffey Jr. (30 HR's, 93 RBI's), Brandon Phillips (.288, 30 HR's, 94 RBI's, 32 SB's), Edwin Encarnacion (.289, 16 HR's, 76 RBI's), and two young studs that will impress and be canidates for the Rookie of the Year in CF Jay Bruce, who was Baseball Prospectus' #1 Prospect in Baseball. He's a 5 Tool Player that hit .319 with 26 HR's and 89 RBI's last year in the Minors. The other young star will be 1B Joey Votto. He's a Top 40 Prospect, and will take over for Scott Hatteberg this season. He hit .294 last season and 22 HR's in AAA, and hit .321 with 4 HR's after September Call-ups with the Reds. This line-up should score a lot of runs, and win a lot of games.
Now, onto the rotation. There are no questions about the Top 2 in Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo. Both have thrown over 200 innings the past two years, and without Bronson's rough streak of losses last season, in which he got very little run support, they combined to go 25-14 last year. The questions come in the final three spots. Vying for these spots are top prospects Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, and Matt Maloney, Vets in Josh Fogg, Jeremy Affeldt, and Matt Belisle, and the player they got for Josh Hamilton: Edinson Volquez. Bailey's a Top 10 Prospect who throws in the mid 90's and has a great curve. If he gets his command bettered, he'll be an ace-type pitcher. Johnny Cueto's a Top 50 MLB Prospect who's strength is command. He's drawn comparisons to Pedro Martinez because of his size, fastball, and command. Matt Maloney's a big, hard-throwing lefty the Reds acquired last year from the Phils for Kyle Lohse. Fogg and Affeldt both come from the Rockies and both had decent seasons. Fogg went 10-9 with a 4.9 ERA last year in Coors Field and Affeldt went 4-3 with a 3.51 ERA coming out of the pen last year, and will try to make the transition back to starter. Matt Belisle went 8-9 for the Reds last year, but showed promise, and has good stuff, so he could develop into a good pitcher. The losers of the race for the final 3 spots will likely go to the pen or back to the minors. Competion breeds success, and with so many promising players competing, the Reds will surprise a lot of people and have a very solid rotation.
The Bullpen was solidified this offseason with the signing of Fransisco Cordero, who had 44 saves and a 2.98 ERA last year with the Brewers. This moves last year's closer, David Weathers, back to his normal set-up spot. He had a very solid year last season with 33 saves and a 3.59 ERA. One of the lone bright spots last year for the pen was Jared Burton. He went 4-2 with a 2.51 ERA last year and is a very good young releiver. Vying for the final spots in the pen will be Bill Bray (returning from a broken finger last season), Mike Stanton, Marcus McBeth, Brad Salmon, Jon Coutlangus, Todd Coffey and the starters who don't get spots in the rotation.
Overall, the Reds have a lot of promising young talent, a potent lineup, what looks to be a much improved and very good pen, and a solid rotation. All in all, I predict the Reds to win around 85 games this season, and compete for the Division Crown.
Shake N Bake!