Four days until our holy day! I'll be there! Yay!
Sports Illustrated has picked the Reds to finish second to the Chub$ in the NL Central. E$PN continues to mention the Reds in talking about surprise teams of the season. I won’t be surprised. I don’t think the Chub$ and Sweet Lou have enough to warrant the unanimous opinion among sports talking heads that the Chub$ will win the division. It’s too bad the Reds finish the season series with them in early September instead of the last week of the season as it has been in the past. Of course, it’d be nice if the Reds had the division wrapped up by then! Imagine, the Reds eliminating the Chub$ over Labor Day weekend…ah, to dream!
The Reds have it. Unfortunately, this reluctance to put the best team on the field is going to be a huge hindrance, especially if they keep three catchers. The acquisition of Corey Patterson continues to seem like a no good, awful, terrible, very bad move. Mike Stanton needs to go. Juan Castro needs to go. And what happens when Alex Gonzalez returns? And when Jay Bruce tears up AAA?
Here’s my roster preview, a combination of reality and some wishing and hoping:
Harang – One of the top five pitchers in the National League. An underrated, quiet guy who continues to be ignored as if he isn’t a “Number one starter.” Harang gets 20 wins this year against 8 losses.
Arroyo – Got screwed last year by his bullpen and his offense. Guy has been pitching well this spring. He’s going to have a career year. 18 wins, 12 losses.
Cueto – A Rookie of the Year candidate, Cueto’s going to be nervous during his first Major League start on Thursday and will probably have a rough April, but he’ll recover and win 12 games for the Reds this year against 9 losses.
Fogg – Fogg will serve as a decent enough filler until Bailey gets his head out of his butt and gets himself up to Cincy in late May, giving the Reds the best pitching rotation in all of baseball.
Volquez – A Rookie of the Year candidate, Volquez will strike out 180 this year and go 14-7.
Cordero – Pumped up by the Reds’ winning ways, Cordero will turn it up a notch and get 50 saves this year.
Weathers – My favorite pen guy, he’ll make last year’s 8th inning nightmares a thing of the past.
Burton – Despite a rough spring, Burton will recover by May and turn into the pitcher he showed us he could be last year.
Bray – The combo of Bray, Burton, and Coffey will make each game against the Reds a six inning affair.
Coffey – I gained a lot of respect for Coffey when I heard about how hard he worked this off season after his terrible 2008. He hasn’t given up a run all spring, and they say he looks better than he ever has. Awesome.
Affeldt – Affeldt had a terrible spring and was thankfully sent to the pen, where he was very effective for the National League Champion Rockies last year. If we get what they did, we may just have one of the best pens in baseball, a complete 180 from last year’s nightmare.
Stanton/Belisle – This is the question mark. Stinkton sux; Wayne’s trying to trade him. A bag of balls would be a good trade, just get him off the roster. As for Belisle, well, we do need a long relief guy, and he and Affeldt would be more than adequate to fill that role. We have two young arms we don’t want to ruin (hopefully three by the end of May), so we’re going to need Matt to suck up the fact he lost a starting job and just go out there and give us a good effort when he’s needed. And when Bailey comes up at the end of May, hopefully we’ll be able to trade Fogg, but if not, we can send Belisle down, right? Or is he out of options?
Opening Day Starters
Votto – Dude’s starting to come around after a slow spring. Dude needs to start on Opening Day. Dude’s gonna hit 20+ homers this year and for a .300+ average. Rookie of the Year Candidate.
Phillips – My favorite Red. Capable of going 30/30 as he did last year, though the statheads are unbelievers. Best darn defensive second baseman in the league. Orlando Hudson, eat your heart out. The Gold Glove belongs to Phillips!
Keppinger – This guy can hit. Good second batter guy. It sure would be interesting to see him batting leadoff with his on base percentage. A little unconventional, but as he doesn’t have much power, he’d be better off hitting ahead of those hitters who do.
Encarnacion – Will have a break out year after a slow April. Will hit .300, 30 homers, and 120 RBI. I believe this guy is an RBI man. And his defense is really incredible. You can’t look at his error total from last year – a lot of those were throwing errors and he seemed to figure out in the second half of last year. Will never compete for the Gold Glove because of my favorite National Ryan Zimmerman and David Wright, but he will definitely hold his own.
Dunn – Sign this man to a forever contract! 40 homers, 100 RBI, 100 runs, 150+ games EVERY year – how could you not want this consistency on your team for a long, long time. His defense has improved a bit despite what the statheads will tell you with their inside out range number.
Patterson – Stupid, stupid, stupid. The only liability in the starting lineup. Guy has a .299 career on base percentage, and he’s supposed to be a leadoff hitter? Wayne should have never caved to Dusty. It’s a GM’s job to sign the players, not a field manager’s. Freel got screwed, Hopper got screwed, and Bruce got screwed by this signing.
Griffey – Junior will hit 600 at the beginning of May, give us 30 homers, and have a season like he did last year, one last hurrah before he goes to Seattle next year.
Ross – Ross cannot hit as bad as he did last year. It simply isn’t possible. I think he’ll hit 15-20 homers this year with a .260 average, not bad considering he’s a pretty good defensive catcher, especially when it comes to throwing out runners. Didn’t he lead the league last year in caught stealing percentage? I could look it up, but nah. I know he was up there.
Hatteberg – I don’t want to see Hatteberg traded. What a great guy to have on the bench!
Freel/Hopper – One of these guys is going to go away. They’re trying to trade Freel. I wish they’d just keep Freel and get rid of Patterson, but Dusty’s in love. Hopper? Well, soon teams will figure out the bunting thing and his average will plummet. Who goes when Bruce comes up? Both of them? My ideal outfield for the season would be Dunn, Bruce, Griffey, and Freel as the fourth, but hey, I also want to put the best team on the field, so what do I know?
Valentin/Bako – Bako should have his bags on the truck bound for Louisville. I realize with Ross’ short spring that he might not be able to carry a full workload, but to carry three catchers is just stupid. Put Ross on extended Spring Training and let him get a few minor league games in, call him up in mid April, and send Bako packing. I don’t have anything against Bako, but I certainly have something against carrying three catchers. Fool me once, Wayne, fool me once, but fool me for a third season in a row? That’s just stupid!
Phillips/Green – It sure is nice to have some depth on the bench, isn’t it? I mean, it would be if we could be assured of carrying one of these guys instead of freaking Juan Hands of Lead, Bat of Foam Castro. If we carry three catchers, both these guys will be going to Louisville.
Castro/Gonzalez – I don’t see how it is possible that Castro stays on the roster when Gonzalez comes back. There’s simply no room for him. But you know, we have old Wayno for a GM, who surprises us from time to time with a bonehead move that keeps us from saying that he’s a good GM. I want to believe, Wayne, I really do, but you stole the 2006 season from us, kept three catchers when there were no bats on the bench, and then this Corey Patterson thing…I just don’t know, Wayne. Prove me wrong. Eat Castro’s contract when Alex comes back. I’ll even come down and help him pack his bags. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all, and I don’t have anything against him personally, but he just isn’t a guy for a winning team’s roster.
Methinks a trade is coming soon. This team has great potential to win the division, but only if the names Castro and Stanton are not on the roster by May. We shall see. It stinks to cloud optimism with negativity, but such is effects of seven consecutive losing seasons. Still, the joy at hearing the national sports media giving the Reds some respect makes the cup of optimism overfloweth!