As part of our preview for the upcoming 2012 season, we’ll be doing a 10 Bold Predictions for 2013 series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our seventh prediction is that Cincinnati Reds get bounced in the NLDS after another NL Central title.
I was pretty cocky about the Reds winning the division last year. I should have posted futures bets on it. I knew they were the best team in the NL Central at the season’s beginning. I had them heading to the NLCS at least, playing with house money to represent the National League in the World Series. All a year ahead of schedule before they were really supposed to be the supreme power of the NL.
And this year I know they’re going to once again fall short.
Tell me why this team is any better than the 2012 version that won 97 games? Tell me how the Reds are going to cut through the teeth of a loaded National League, one that won’t be decided by who the hot team is in October but rather which team is the most complete. Last season was the Reds real opportunity at sneaking up on everyone. The field was wide open. Instead, the Giants crept in and stole the World Series title like a thief in the night.
Sure, the Reds added Shin-Soo Choo, but the offense wasn’t really the problem. Where Choo closes the gap between his skill and Drew Stubbs, does Ryan Ludwick slide back? How about the Reds rotation which had a rocky spring–Mike Leake is penciled in as your same old fifth starter. Can Cueto and Latos be just as good as they were last year? If they aren’t can Homer Bailey finally step up over a full season’s worth of starts? How much longer than Bronson Arroyo really fool people, and do you really want to enter the postseason with Arroyo starting one of those games in the series?
Don’t get me wrong, every team is not without it’s questions. That’s what writers and bloggers do this time of year, they poke holes in why teams will fail. The Reds will still be a very good team that wins between 88 and 93 or so games. A lot of people would sign up for that right now. But really the goal for this Reds team isn’t to hang NL Central flags on the outfield wall. It’s to get to the World Series and have a shot at winning it all. That’s why you build, and why you play the games.
What I see happening is another impressive Reds regular season that holds off a charge from the St. Louis Cardinals to win their third division title in four years. That will be followed up with a trip out west to play the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs, and the Reds fall short again losing in four or so games.
Sometimes in the end of the movie, our heroes fall tragically short. It’s not a crime, and sometimes it’s in our sorrows that we learn to love someone or something more. I’m suggesting that you prepare yourself for another heartbreak ending to this drama. When the Reds sent Aroldis Chapman back to the bullpen, they sealed their own fate.