Thursday, March 7, 2013

30 Clubs in 30 Days: Cincinnati Reds

2012 Record: 92-70 (1st NL Central)

Key Additions:
Shin-Soo Choo (Trade with Cleveland)

Key Subtractions:
Drew Stubbs (Trade with Cleveland)
Didi Gregorious (Trade with Arizona)

Which New Guy Will Help The Most?
          Of all of the names listed above, there really is only one impactful player that made his way to the Reds this off-season and that is CF Shin-Soo Choo. The Reds have been desperately trying to look for a leadoff hitter after former CF Drew Stubbs showed he can’t get on base enough for him to utilize his great speed more often, so the Reds decided to go in another direction. The interesting aspect of it all is that Choo has never played CF before in his career, so it might take him a few months to handle the reigns of being the captain of the outfield for the first time. Another aspect of Choo in Cinci is that he is a Free Agent at the end of this year, so by no means is he a long term piece for the Reds at the moment. They did give up Didi Gregorius in the big deal with the Indians and D-backs last year, but they have some stability there with Zack Cozart currently manning the position. Overall, a very uneventful and boring offseason if you’re a Reds fan, but this team did not need much tinkering to begin with.

Spring Training Battles:
          Again, this Reds team is pretty much set top to bottom with just a few question marks in terms of position battle heading into the spring. A few bullpen spots are up for grabs, third base could be interesting and the starting catcher’s job could be decided between Ryan Hanigan and Devon Mesoraco. The most talked about and undecided battle heading into the spring for the Reds however is a battle with one person involved, and that’s seeing if Aroldis Chapman can make the successful jump from lockdown reliever to a frontline starter. Some have failed (Daniel Bard) and some have succeeded (Chris Sale) so we need to see where this one ends up as the Reds could have a scary rotation can carry his success from the ‘pen to the rotation.

Questions Heading into the Season:

          Can the Reds maintain their level of success of the last few years with a stronger NL Central?
          This to me is fairly easy question to answer as there really isn’t that elite team in this division to compete with the Reds at this point. Yes, the Cubs have made big strides, but they still lost over 100 games last season and yes the Brewers made improvements but how far can the young and inexperienced pitching take them? I do see the Reds winning the NL Central once again, and again, in rather convincing fashion.

Prospect who could have the Biggest Impact in 2013:
          A lot of you are going to disagree with me on this one because I am not choosing Billy Hamilton. The only reason I don’t is because of the fact that they went out and traded for Choo to play CF for 2013. This shows us that the Reds simply don’t feel he is ready to play every day in the Big Leagues, so they got Choo for this year to allow Hamilton to refine his skills a bit in the minors before taking over the job in 2014. So which prospect will have the biggest impact this year? Tony Cingrani. With Chapman leaving the bullpen for the rotation, that leaves a big hole from the left side in the Reds’ bullpen, and Tony Cingrani has the chance to come up big for the Reds. For 2014 and beyond, surely Hamilton will have an impact that will be unsurpassed on the Reds, but for 2013, it’s Cingrani.

Projected Roster:
Projected Starting Lineup:
1.    Shin-Soo Choo (CF)
2.    Brandon Phillips (2B)
3.    Joey Votto (1B)
4.    Jay Bruce (RF)
5.    Ryan Ludwick (LF)
6.    Zack Cozart (SS)
7.    Todd Frazier (3B)
8.    Ryan Hanigan (C)
9.    Pitcher

Projected Bench:
C Devon Mesoraco
UTIL Jack Hannahan

Projected Rotation:
1.    Johnny Cueto
2.    Bronson Arroyo
3.    Mat Latos
4.    Homer Bailey
5.    Aroldis Chapman

Projected Bullpen:
Jonathon Broxton (CL)
Jose Arrendondo
Tony Cingrani
Nick Masset
Alfredo Simon

Projected 2013 Record: 92-70(First NL Central)
The Reds seem poised to win the NL Central crown yet again and with improvement on the few weaknesses from last year, this Reds team could and should be a force to be reckoned with.

Nicholas Bell @TheRealNickBell

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