ESPN’s Neyer on the Reds chances to compete

ESPN’s Rob Neyer is a pretty respected writer in our opinion. He’s also the lone, true baseball blog that exists on that site. All the other ‘blogs’ on ESPN’s MLB site are imposters.

On Neyers blog SweetSpot; he had this to say about the Reds chances of competing in 2010:
Cardinals – 92
Reds – 85
Cubs – 84
Brewers – 81
Pirates – 70
Astros – 69

Really, just one noteworthy item here, as the Reds look like serious Wild Card contenders.

How? Well, they did win 78 games last year, so it’s not like they’ve got terribly far to go. Joey Votto is fast becoming a superstar, and young Jay Bruce still figures to someday get on base more than 30 percent of the time. But other than Bruce in right, what will the outfield look like? Will Willy Taveras be allowed to throw away hundreds of plate appearances? How will Dusty Baker divvy up the time for speedster Drew Stubbs, Triple-A slugger Wladimir Balentien, on-base machine Chris Dickerson, and Double-A star Chris Heisey?

There’s plenty of talent there for a reasonably productive outfield, but it’s impossible to know if Baker’s smart enough to put the puzzle together early enough to make a difference.

Anyone trying to construct projected standings has to wrestle with issues like this for every team. It’s relatively easy to come up with a reasonably effective method to project the performance of individual players, because a player’s past performance leaves big footprints in the sand. But even atop the inherent random variation, there are the generally unpredictable (and often unreported) physical injuries plus the vagaries of management and changing conditions as the season goes along.

These projections are just snapshots, based on solid statistical assumptions and questionable assumptions about personnel decisions. I do believe that the Reds have the talent on their roster for a solid season. Whether the luck and the management line up behind the talent … well, that’s your proverbial “known unknown.”

He brings up a couple of really good points.

1) The outfield is a cluttered mess at this point, and they needto decide who is going to be playing as the every day guys in left field and center and not waver on it should those guys that win the job out of Spring Training falter the first few weeks of the season. We also concur that giving Wily Taveras at-bats is a waste of time and the more he climbs in the box this year the more our chances of winning ballgames goes down statistically.

2) It’s going to come down to luck (staying healthy and a few bounces of the ball the right way) and management. The talent is there for these guys to be darkhorses in the NL.

Believe it! Reach for the silver rings this year Redlegs. For once, surprise us all.