Facing the Phillies in the NLDS proved too much for this young team, as they didn’t win one game but were so content just to be there.
This led to the popular question, were the Reds just lucky last year? Or are they a team for fans to really get excited about in 2011?
Let’s take a look at the Cincinnati Reds:
2011 was predicted as the year the Reds would be competitive in the NL Central, making last year a pleasant surprise. It looks as if virtually the same team is returning from 2010, but should be a little wiser after experiencing the post season.
Votto did get some help from 23-year-old Jay Bruce, 25 year-old Drew Stubbs and veteran Scott Rolan’s hot bats that neighbored him in the line-up. Bruce finished with 70 RBIs, 25 home-runs and posting a .281 batting average, while Stubbs had 22 home-runs, 77 RBIs, with a .255 batting average.
The bats are the Reds muscle but how strong rest on the shoulders of the three youngsters (Bruce, Votto and Stubbs). Bruce and Stubbs could break out in 2011, like Votto did last year at least that is the plan.
Not to leave out the Reds bullpen, which features the highly talked about Cuban phenom Aroldis Chapman. Chapman broke the MLB for fastest pitch clocking a 105+ mph fastball in 2010. Chapman could become a dominant closer and will definitely play that roll a few times in the upcoming season. Considering Chapman’s price tag, the Reds will try him out in the rotation but doubt it will be this season. For now he can shorten games and eat some innings for the starters.
The Reds don’t have a true ace on their pitching staff to go out there every fifth day. The rotation’s success will depend on veteran, 34 year-old Bronson Arroyo and Edison Volquez, who is still recovering from 2009 Tommy John surgery.
Rounding out the bottom includes the undependable Johnny Cueto and an ineffective Homer Bailey.
GO figure that Cueto will start the season on the DL, missing the month of April due to shoulder soreness. That is never a good diagnosis.
Bailey is 24-years old ex-phenom, who has not come close to his lavish days in the minors. Bailey from the past is what everyone is still hoping to see, but his 4.46 ERA, 109 hits over 109 innings has to improve. Bailey did strike out 100 batters, but walking 40 hitters counteracts the one positive.
The team’s hope is that youngsters Travis Wood and Mike Leake continue to improve on 2010 performances. These two had roles in getting to the Reds to the playoffs. Sans Cueto, both Leake and Wood will start the season in the rotation, which gives the two a nice little battle to keep a spot. My guess is Wood will remain in the rotation all season; Leake stays until Cueto gets healthy.
Bottom line is this rotation is not ideal because Arroyo is getting up there. It is doubtful he can win 17 games and throw 200+ innings again in 2011. Volquez was an ace in 2008, but getting back there is tough and only time will tell. Volquez was named the Opening Day starter earlier this week.
Somehow skipper Dusty Baker, who has been known to destroy pitcher’s arms (i.e. destroyer of ‘Chicago Heat’ of Prior and Wood) has to make this work without losing any arms to injury. He did it last season, maybe he learned from past mistakes.
Players To Watch:
OF Jay Bruce has set himself up for the monster season everyone has been waiting to see. Bruce could lower his strikeouts a little, as he finished with 136 in 2010. For a 23-year-old to have an OPS (on-base + slugging) of .846 is ridiculous, as he gets on base and hits for power. Bruce could become the Votto of 2011, and this team will win because of their bats so this could give the Red the extra edge.
2011 NL Central Prediction:
This team was not lucky in 2010 they were good. No team wins 91 games and stays in first place for 115 days because of a pot of gold; the Reds were in the race from the start.
I expect this team to continue right where they left off in 2011, hitting their way to win games.
Yes, it will be more of a challenge with the new additions to the Milwaukee Brewers, but the Reds will be more mature to even the score.
Cincinnati fans should be ready for a second trip to the post season, but the players need their help by coming to the ballpark to cheer them on. If the fans want their Reds to win the NL Central once again they have to show up because the team should be ready to be there this time round.
The NL Central will be a battle that could be debated forever, so until things start to count baseball fans are better off making March Madness predictions for the next seven days.
- 2011 MLB Preview: Cincinnati Reds (thebaseballblog10.wordpress.com)
- Offseason In Review: Cincinnati Reds (mlbtraderumors.com)
- Cincinnati Reds preview (sportingnews.com)
- Reds’ Votto wants to improve on MVP season (canada.com)
- Reds Sign Joey Votto To Three-Year, $38 Million Contract (sbnation.com)
- 2011 MLB Preseason Preview: Cincinnati Reds (bleacherreport.com)