Cincinnati Reds Season Preview

With the Preseason in full swing, Diamond Hoggers will attempt to forecast several aspects of each team in baseball. Before Opening day we plan to have a pretty good outline of what you’ll be seeing in 2007. Today we take our hacks at the Cincinnati Reds:

Predicted Finish: 88-74, (2nd place NL Central) Wild Card Hunt

Projected Stats: Dunn (.274, 53 HR, 118 RBI, 6 SB), Griffey (.267, 29 HR, 89 RBI), Phillips (.284, 14 HR, 56 RBI, 30 SB), Freel (.291, 5 HR, 54 SB), Hatteberg (.281, 19 HR, 66 RBI), Ross (.256, 16 HR, 59 RBI), Encarnacion (.260, 26 HR, 77 RBI) Harang (15-10, 3.86 ERA), Arroyo (12-13, 4.45 ERA), Milton (9-11, 5.35 ERA), Bray (4-2, 3.20 ERA), Weathers (15 saves, 5-3, 4.11 ERA), Lohse (16-11, 4.30 ERA)

Biggest Storyline: Adam Dunn is in his make or break year. Once considered a future Hall of Fame HR Champion, he has only made one All Star Team, and hasn’t won a Homerun title yet. Playing for his $13 million dollar option year, he will make a run at the MVP award (but not win it), while being an All Star and winning his first homerun crown, while assuming a leadership role on the team. Expect improvement from him in the field as well as cutting down his K’s at the plate. Ken Griffey Jr. (563 career HR) continues his march towards 600. Can Griffey stay healthy enough to make a run at it this season and have his best season as a Red? Experts and others will jump on this team, who could be this year’s edition of the 2006 Tigers but not quite as good. Expect a wild card run till late season.

Strengths: Plenty of speed in the lineup with Phillips and Freel. Even the guys who aren’t fast can steal a base because they know how and when to run. The lineup if healthy has some power and the bandbox ballpark only adds to that. Every starter on the team has a chance at double digit HR totals with the exception of Freel. The Bullpen will be VERY improved, which was a downfall last season for this team. Additions from last year; Bray, Majewski, Cormier, Guardado will perform, as well as offseason additions like Sarloos and Stanton. Virtually every bullpen option is a dependable big league pitcher. The team hasn’t had that since they moved to their new park in 2003. This group has some of the best chemistry in the big leagues and has shown resilience in late innings continually over the past few years. There seems to be a late inning magic that lurks with these guys, especially at home.

Weaknesses: Until Homer Bailey proves himself big league ready (estimation 2008), this team lacks a true #1, Ace type anchor for their starting staff. Harang and Arroyo are top of the line #2 guys in the league when on their game can look like #1, but that won’t happen all of the time. The team benefitted from the National League not really every figuring out Arroyo last season and a career year from the workhorse Harang. “Erica” Milton is a disaster waiting to happen. Can look like an ace one start and like a career minor leaguer the next four. We expect Kyle Lohse to have some dominant outings; there was times last season down the stretch when he was unhittable, and expect him to really boom this year as the #4 starter. Also, while having a deep bullpen, there isn’t a true closer on the team. Unless someone emerges, they’ll need that to compete. We know they have Eddie Guardado, but he is on his last legs and David Weathers can’t be expected to close more than 20 games successfully. The lineup is littered with a lot of all or nothing guys that strike out too much despite impressive power. Jerry Narron just might be the long-term solution at manager, and while we’re pulling for him big time, he’s yet to prove over a full season he is a top 10 big league manager.
The New Nasty Boys? Coffey, Weathers, and Stanton.