30 Clubs in 30 Days: Cincinnati Reds

Posted: March 15, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

ImageLost in the shuffle of last October’s postseason was the Cincinnati Reds. This is a team that won 97 games and took a 2-0 series lead on the eventual World Series champion Giants before succumbing in three straight at home to end their season in abject disappointment. In 2013, the Reds return with an improved lineup and an ace in Johnny Cueto (19-9, 2.78) at the top of their rotation.

The most impressive aspect of the 2012 Reds was their depth and resiliency. The team lost 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto (.337-14-56) for 50 games due to injury, was without 3B Scott Rolen (.245-8-39) for about half the season, and relied on young, unproven commodities at SS and in the outfield en route to their second National League Central title in three years.

With Votto out, the team relied on the run production of Jay Bruce (.252-34-99) and Ryan Ludwick (.275-26-80). The latter was resigned this offseason, and he along with 2B Brandon Phillips (.281-18-77) and 3B Todd Frazier (.273-19-67) will provide added support to Bruce and Votto in the middle of the lineup. Add former Indians OF Shin-Soo Choo (.283-16-67) to the fold, and the Reds should frighten opposing pitchers this season.

Their pitching staff looks largely the same. Aroldis Chapman (5-5, 1.51, 38 SV) moves from the closers role to the starting rotation, completing an evolution that they hoped would occur in spring training last year. He is expected to join Cueto, Mat Latos (14-4, 3.48), Homer Bailey (13-10, 3.68), and Bronson Arroyo (12-10, 3.74) in what is probably the best rotation in the division. Jonathan Broxton (3-3, 2.82) was resigned to act as the Reds’ new closer.

Five Year Review:
2012:  97-65
Lost in NLDS to Giants, 3-2
2011: 79-83
2010: 91-71
Lost in NLDS to Phillies, 3-0
2009: 78-84
2008: 74-88

2012 Team MVP: RHP Johnny Cueto: The Reds would not have even sniffed the playoffs if it weren’t for Cueto, their 27-year old ace right-hander. It has been a long time coming for Cueto, who debuted with the team in 2008, going 9-14, 4.81 in 31 starts. Since then, the Dominican born hurler has improved every season, reaching his career high in wins (19), games (33), IP (217), and K (170). Cueto was so consistent that he led the National League in ERA+ at 152. For the Reds to reach October again, they will need a dynamite repeat of Cueto’s 2012 numbers.

2012 Team LVP: CF Drew Stubbs: Traded to Cleveland in November in the deal that brought Choo across Ohio to Cincinnati, Stubbs had been among the most disappointing Reds the last few seasons. After bursting onto the scene in 2010 with a .255-22-77-30 SB line, Stubbs’ plate discipline took a deep nosedive. Granted, the 27-year old still hit 15 HR and stole 40 bases in 2011. But, his 205 strikeouts led the league and established a new Reds records for futility at the dish (fourth most in MLB all-time in a single season). Last season, Stubbs saw his batting average drop all the way to .213, a .30 point decline from the year prior. That was all the Reds needed to see to validate shipping the former highly touted prospect to Cleveland.

Key Acquisitions:

C Miguel Olivo (Seattle Mariners)
IF Jason Donald (Cleveland Indians)
SS Cesar Izturis (Washington Nationals)
3B Jack Hannahan (Cleveland Indians)
OF Shin-Soo Choo (Cleveland Indians)
RHP Clay Hensley (San Francisco Giants)

Key Departures

C Dioner Navarro (Chicago Cubs)
IF Miguel Cairo (retirement)
IF Wilson Valdez (San Francisco Giants)
IF Didi Gregorius (Arizona Diamondbacks)
3B Scott Rolen (unsigned)
OF Drew Stubbs (Cleveland Indians)
RHP Ryan Madson (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
LHP Bill Bray (Washington Nationals)

Projected Lineup/Rotation (w/composite 2013 projections):

CF Shin-Soo Choo – .273-19-68-17 SB
2B Brandon Phillips – .280-18-75, 13 SB
1B Joey Votto – .301-28-98
LF Ryan Ludwick – .258-23-80
RF Jay Bruce – .257-32-95
3B Todd Frazier – .248-21-72
SS Zack Cozart – .254-14-55
C Ryan Hanigan – .269-4-29

RHP Johnny Cueto – 13-8, 3.44
RHP Mat Latos – 13-9, 3.55
RHP Bronson Arroyo – 12-11, 4.39
RHP Homer Bailey – 10-9, 4.03
LHP Aroldis Chapman – 10-6, 3.29

RHP Jonathan Broxton – 3-2, 3.27, 22 SV
LHP Sean Marshall – 4-3, 2.75, 2 SV

2013 Outlook

The last time the Reds were defending N.L. Central champs, they were mired in a very disappointing 2011 campaign. But, this is a different team with much greater aspirations. After all, they were one home victory away from advancing to the NLCS last season.

The rotation should be fine. Even if one or two of their starters falter or are beset with injuries, the Reds have depth in the high-minors to survive. Their lineup, meanwhile, is miles ahead of where it was two years ago. From 1-9, the Reds have run production capabilities at every slot. They also have a much improved bench with former US Olympian and Phillies prospect Jason Donald, top prospect C Devin Mesoraco, and defensive specialist Jack Hannahan taking their respective spots in the dugout.

The Reds have all the talent to win what is a mediocre Central Division. I see them winning between 92-98 games, capturing their third division crown in four years.

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