Friday, November 30, 2012

CIncinnati Reds Season 21 Outlook

Season 20
Won/Loss (place in division) & Playoffs: 72-90 (3rd) missed playoffs
Offense: 736 runs (7th)
Pitching:  4.22 ERA (11th)

Major Changes
FA Departures:
  SP Peter Zhou, OF Gerardo Martis, RP Jorge Marichal, C Ronn Mahomes, LR Jean Lanning, RP Naoki Higashioka
FA Signees:  SP Andre Monahan, C Harold Blume, OF Kevin Cooper
Rule V: 
SP Mark Kwon (#7)

Season 21 Outlook
I correctly thought the division would be wide-open last year, but incorrectly picked the Reds to step up and take advantage.  One would think if a team "underperformed" given the seasons Miguel Rojas (1.79 ERA in 225 IP) and Harold Creek (36/37 saves, 1.63 ERA) had, you'd look to the offense to find the problem.

The opposite is true.  While the lineup performed at least adequately, the rest of the staff outside of Rojas, Creek and RP Desi Ortiz (3.43 ERA in 110 innings) had problems.  Cincy can expect a much better year from Tony Ordaz, who would be the undisputed #1 on most teams.  Pepe Villafuerte, as we saw in Season 19, is capable of putting up very good numbers.  He's a fireballer and very tough on righties, but his wildness makes him unpredictable.  I think Andre Monahan will end up being one of the high-impact FA signings of Season 21.  He's compiled a very nice 3.47 ERA over his 6 seasons, and thus far his performance hasn't varied much from year to year.  So, there's a good probabilty that the Reds will get 3 excellent SP performances this year, with at least a chance for a 4th.

Even if Creek slips some from last year (likely), he'll still be good as a closer.  Ortiz is his primary setup...the bullpen gets a bit thin from there.

The Reds' offense probably goes much as Vin Sanchez goes.  Last year was a bit of an off year for him, although he still hit 34 homers and drove in 102.  Kevin Cooper replaces Martis in LF - basically a trade of on-base skills to get a bit more power.  CF Sammy Quevedo provides some speed (20 SB's) and power (20 HR's), but needs to up that OBP (.294).  Miguel Julio remains a better-than-average hitter for a C. 

Cincinnati's still-average offense should still be good enough if the expected pitching improvements materialize.  I don't think they'll beat the Cubs, but I think they'll make it a lot closer race this year.

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