The Coors Effect

January 30, 2010 1:29 PM

2010 Preview Series: Cincinnati Reds

While the Coors Effect is, always has been, and always will be a Rockies-focused blog, the Rockies don't play in a vacuum.  Entering the season, it's important to know just what is going on with the rest of the teams in the majors; hence, we're going to take a day to preview each of the other 29 teams in the league.  Don't worry -- we'll keep up with any Rockies-related news during this time.

The Cincinnati Reds really aren't as bad as you might think.  While they finished 78-84 in 2009, there's some (note that I said "some") chance of this being a surprise team in 2010.

The offense is led by first baseman Joey Votto, who had a very strong .981 OPS in 2009 at age 25.  Votto might not repeat that this season, but he should continue to be a solid middle-of-the-order bat for the Reds.  Brandon Phillips is another solid hitter, and Scott Rolen, though he's quite a bit off from his peak a few years ago, is still a productive player and a good fielder at the hot corner.

The outfield has potential: Chris Dickerson should be a league-averageish hitter in left, and Jay Bruce has tons of potential, though he hit just .223 in 2009.  I'd expect Bruce's BA to rebound a bit in 2010, and he's already a pretty solid power hitter.  The offense should be improved if the Reds don't give 437 plate appearances to Willy Taveras again, though his likely replacement, Drew Stubbs, has been a disappointment as a prospect.  The Reds also could give a shot to Chris Heisey, who hit for a .900 OPS combined between AA and AAA, a shot somewhere in the outfield, possibly in center.

The pitching rotation is where the Reds really have a chance to shine.  Aaron Harang has been a hard-luck starter the last two years, going 12-31 despite not being that bad of a pitcher.  (He was 6-14 with a 4.21 ERA last year.)  Bronson Arroyo hasn't been that much better than Harang, yet he's won 15 games each of the past two seasons; those two give the Reds two solid starters, though no ace.  Johnny Cueto is a strong number three, and has a good chance to develop into something better than that.  Former top prospect Homer Bailey looked like he might be putting it together in 2009, though his strikeout rate was nowhere close to what you'd want from an ace.  The big question, of course, is what the team will do with Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman.  Chapman probably could use some time in the minors, but with Edinson Volquez likely to miss significant time to start the year, Chapman is probably the best option the Reds have as a fifth starter right now.

The bullpen, led by closer Francisco Cordero, was solid in 2009 and looks to be solid again.

While it's a stretch to call the Reds a playoff contender right now, there's potential here.  The offense should be pretty good, with a very good hitter in Votto, two solid hitters in Phillips and Rolen, and several more who could be good (Bruce, Heisey, maybe Dickerson), with only one real hole at short.  The starting pitching should be solid, particularly if Cueto and/or Bailey can make strides and Chapman is as good as he's hyped to be.

Chapman is obviously the Reds' best prospect, but there's more talent on the farm and, of course, quite a bit of young talent in the majors.

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