As part of our preview for the upcoming 2012 season, we’ll be doing a 10 Bold Predictions for 2012 series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our fifth installment of this prediction series is that the Cincinnati Reds are one of two NLCS representatives in 2012.
There’s people out there that won’t want to believe me–but my wife will serve as my witness on this (she would NEVER lie for me). I have been talking about the 2012 Cincinnati Reds making a possible World Series run for several years now.
The night my wife will remember me saying it was when the outs were starting to melt away in that NLDS game three versus the Phillies back in 2010. As I sat there in the last row of the stadium with her, I said “we’re really going to get swept. It’s really going to end like this”. I was right. The Reds got shutout by Cole Hamels on a night when he had his best stuff. But I made a prediction I have felt so strongly about for so long.
“Mark my words, this team will be back. They’ll miss out on the playoffs in 2011 and then they’re going to come roaring back and go after the whole thing in 2012. That’s been the year all along: 2012″.
Now, because she’s a woman and things like that aren’t important to her she wouldn’t be able to recite my exact prediction. But she can attest to the fact that her husband has never felt more strongly about something happening in sports than the Cincinnati Reds impending 2012 run to the World Series. This is because I’ve also reminded her countless times over the last year.
And I’ve hedged my prediction some. I don’t think they’re going to the World Series. Our season predictions won’t go up until next week on this site but I still don’t fully know who this mystery opponent who will knock off the Reds in the 2012 NLCS will even be yet. But someone’s knocking them off. All I know is they’re going to get that far, and they’re not going to make the World Series. And I feel like it’s going to be in six games that the NLCS lasts. Just enough so that you have some hopes and dreams of the Reds really playing for the whole thing. But they’re going to fall tragically short like all of our heroes eventually do. And that’s because they’re my team. That’s why they’re not going to the World Series. But mark my words, before this thing gets completely blown up and the Reds nucleus as you know it is disbanded, they’re going to take you on a ride that you haven’t been on in a long, long time.
I love the make up of this roster. I think there are any number of players who could go from respectable Major League professionals to star pretty easily because they have the pedigree and I think they’ve got the ability to truly be more than solid. Many of these guys moved up through the minor league system together and have grown up as ballplayers together. The chemistry in this organization with this group of players is not overstated as it so often is around baseball. These guys like each-other and have a strong clubhouse. They’ve also all reached that ‘peak ‘and ‘prime’ age around the same time. When you get several guys who have career years together you see teams come out of nowhere and take off.
Last year was absolutely painful for my heart and huge hit to my mental health at times. Just writing on this blog each day was a challenge because I was lamenting the fact it was baseball season as the Reds floundered their way through 162. Sometimes in baseball that just happens. And sometimes in life things happen for a reason that you never come to understand. And the reason the Reds of 2011 were so bad was so that they could fly under the radar in 2012. The baseball Gods made me purge my joys last season so that it could be a summer long party in 2012.
Aside from the Reds being able to once again sneak up on some teams quietly–something they lacked the ability to do from game one in 2011–it’s been the perfect storm off-season with some of the things that have happened. Let’s examine some of the things that have taken place that are going to allow the Reds to make a run in 2012:
- Reds trade for Matt Latos. Alright, he’s not an ace in my opinion yet. But it’s another lottery ticket thrown in the raffle of guys who could be aces for the Reds. And I still see Cueto, Bailey, and now Latos as guys who could have that type of ‘stopper’ season for the Reds. Give me the ball on day five and let me go get you a ballgame and end this slide or keep this streak going.
- Albert Pujols leaves the Cardinals for the Angels. Why don’t you do me a favor, look up what Albert Pujols did against the Reds over his career (Actually, let me do that for you. 172 GP, .350, 46 HR, 143 RBI, 10 steals/zero caught stealing, 92 BB, 50 K’s, .430/.641/1.072). Look, I’ll miss seeing the guy’s pure talent a few times a summer, but let’s get serious I can do without him making me miserable in the form of game winning grand slams and such. AL West foes, you enjoy that.
- Prince Fielder signs with the Detroit Tigers. Maybe the second greatest offensive lethal weapon in the National League, and he’s leaving the NL Central too! Now this is just gravy. People forget he’ll just be 28 years old this season, he is in his prime years and he will still torture pitching staffs for about 4 or 5 more seasons before he’s ‘getting old’ or no matter how big that spare tire gets.
Ryan Braun is suspended for PED use for 40 games. Yea. Shit. Damn you formality. This would have been the nail in the Brewers coffin, trust me. They lucked out here.
- Chris Carpenter is out 3 to 4 months with a bulging disk. Chris Carpenter scares me. He’s fiery, he eats innings, you can hang a few runs on him in the first inning of a game and then he one hits you the rest of the way. He’s the type of catalyst ace that few guys around the big leagues truly are. This is a huge void for the Cardinals. And I found out they’re going to Opening Day start Kyle Lohse. A man doesn’t deserve such a life of luxury folks. I am that man.
- Adam Wainwright returns from Tommy-John surgery.People want to talk about Wainwright being the sleeper of the year. Look, he’s good and I have no doubts he’ll return to his previous levels of performance. But give me one guy who came back and was his dominant old self his first half season back from Tommy-John surgery. There aren’t any. Reds luck out again here. I’m still warm and fuzzy inside with memories of that February day last year.
- Theo Epstein got his hands on the Cubs a bit too late. Theo will turn the Cubbies around but it’s going to take time. Are they still employing the likes of Ryan Dempster and Alfonso Soriano? Bryan LaHair at first base? It’s going to be a fun season of making fun of Cubs fans again.
- The Phillies are a mess. I expect a regression from Cliff Lee. Roy Halladay has been nothing if not touch and go this spring. Jimmy Rollins is getting old. Chase Utley is hurt. Ryan Howard is hurt. The Phillies do not scare me. Not in the slightest.
- The Reds sign Sean Marshall. This guy is like the nastiest lefty in baseball. He’s not gonna crap out like Ricky Rincon did when the Indians went out and tried to make a splash in getting a nasty lefty to bolster a great pen. He’s going to get first dibs on the closer role, and I think he’s going to have a fine audition.
I could keep going, but these are all things that have made it a wonderful off-season towards building my case for the Reds run to the 2012 NLCS.
We led off the prediction series by telling you that Jay Bruce was going to be the 2012 MVP. But now for some of the unheralded guys who will pay off huge for the Redlegs in 2012. Chris Heisey, Homer Bailey, Ryan Ludwick, and the rebound of guys like Scott Rolen and Drew Stubbs will pay off for the Reds. Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto will play their usual role.
You look in the pen and the Reds have some serious firepower. Jose Arredondo is a year into his own Tommy-John recovery, and the Reds have Bill Bray, Nick Masset, Aroldis Chapman, Marshall, and some other very capable arms that will be down in that bullpen. They’re deep. Especially if Ryan Madson hadn’t gotten hurt. But we’re here to focus on why this prediction will come true.
The Reds are about to give you the finest season since 1990, if you can just make it until October. This is going to be the year and I want you to remember where you heard it. Just don’t expect too much ultimately. I’ll sign up for an NLCS run and take my chances from there right now.