Wednesday, March 16, 2005

 

2005 Season Preview: Cincinnati Reds

The Reds are funny. They have so much talent on the offense that they could somehow win the division if everything fell into place (although highly unlikely), or they could come away with the Wild Card. The problem is the offense always gets hurt, and then the team falls to pieces. It is basically perfectly balanced to win despite their pitching, but once its effectiveness goes down due to injury its not nearly enough help.

Rich Aurilia, SS: Aurilia’s stock has fallen like Tom Green’s career as of late. So naturally the Reds signed him. I can’t really criticize the move though because it is a minor league contract [read inexpensive] and they have a shortstop issue after letting Larkin walk (and their replacement hurting himself).

Kent Mercker, RP: Mercker had a very good year out of the bullpen for the Cubs, and I checked all the translated and advanced pitching stats at BP to make sure his ERA was legit. Well it is. So good job Cincinnati, hopefully he repeats his performance for you.

Eric Milton, SP: Milton should be a #4 or #5 starter making maybe $3 million a season for the innings he is going to eat up. He gives up way too many homeruns, he doesn’t strikeout enough people for the walks he gives up, and he has not had a real good season in a few years, which isn’t a good sign. So the Reds gave him 3 years and $25 million, you know so he could make as much money as Matt Clement. Damnit people.

Joe Randa, 3B: Randa was atleast inexpensive, and his offensive slide may have just been part of the collective death that was Kansas City this year. Plus Kearns is sent back to the OF, ending the 3B experiment.

David Weathers, RP: Considering Mercker got basically the same pay per season in his 2 year deal that Weathers gets for his one season, I shake my head. Weathers is not the worst pitcher, but he isn’t as good as Mercker has been. When you only have so much money you need to learn how to spend it efficiently.

Ben Weber, RP: Weber got hammered last year, but is usually effective for the Angels. Salary figures were not released for this deal, so it probably isn’t worth that much. If he does well, then yay for Cinci. If not then at least he was inexpensive.

Paul Wilson, SP: A lot of people questioned the signing of Paul Wilson for $4 million+ a year. Then Kris Benson who has similar numbers (if not more ability, but potential doesn’t do you much when you never fulfill it) gets $7.5 a season. Plus, if Wilson is the only thing that Cinci feels they can bring to the rotation that resembles an ace as far as their talent goes, then it looks better again.

Via trade: Acquired Ramon Ortiz for a minor leaguer. Ramon Ortiz is a good pickup for the Reds because he is capable of pitching well. Then again he is also capable of pitching terribly. So either way it is going to be fun as always in Cinci. Hopefully for their sake he pitches effectively and gives them something to help Paul Wilson.

1) D'Angelo Jimenez
2) Joe Randa
3) Sean Casey
4) Adam Dunn
5) Ken Griffey Jr.
6) Austin Kearns
7) Jason LaRue
8) Felipe Lopez/Rich Aurilia

If healthy, Casey-Dunn-Griffey-Kearns is right up there with any lineup in the league, and is probably the best outfield in baseball (again). Although the Red Sox with a healthy Trot Nixon can put up a pretty good argument. I would like to see some more of Ryan Freel somewhere in the lineup to see what he is capable of. Jason LaRue is good as far as a regular catcher goes, and the Lopez/Aurilia combo probably won't wow anyone. In all honesty I'd love for this lineup to stay healthy just for once to see what it is capable of doing over a full season.

1) Paul Wilson
2) Eric Milton
3) Ramon Ortiz
4) Aaron Harang
5) Luke Hudson

...where is Pete Harnisch and Steve Cook when you need them? Just kidding of course, no more Jim Bowden signings, thank you. Wilson isn't an ace, but he is the best pitcher on this team as of right now. Eric Milton is vastly overrated, and going from one home run park to a worse home run park is not going to help his league leading homeruns allowed total from 2004. Did I mention he's making as much money as Matt Clement? Ramon Ortiz has been good, and worse over his career. Something tells me he is going to stick to the worse side of the equation. Aaron Harang (like Cory Lidle before him) is better than Eric Milton and Ramon Ortiz, but was never given a chance to be overrated. Luke Hudson seems to have alot of upside according to every report I've seen, and hopefully he returns from a torn labrum to pitch effectively. He is Tim Hudson's younger brother by the way, but that doesn't always mean much in baseball (Chris Gwynn and Ozzie Canseco anybody?) I want the more dependable brother. Thank God for the Boone's of the world.

The bullpen last year....well not so good. Ben Weber, David Weathers, and Kent Mercker have been added though, as well as Gabe White and other retreads lost. This addition, as well as the addition by subtraction, to the equation of the pen should help the Reds greatly, since their rotation won't. At the moment there are 5 innings eaters; hopefully the lineup holds up and gives them fabulous run support, and then pen can save the day. It is their only hope.

When you guys get to blow out birthday candles and make a wish, don't be selfish. Make a wish for the Reds outfield to stay healthy. Or for Wily Mo Pena to all of a sudden learn how to play shortstop or something. The Reds need that sort of thing. Now that I think about it, why don't they try something crazy like that? Put him at second base maybe, move Jimenez to SS. It'll strengthen the SS position, and weaken the 2b one defensively, but the offensive gain would more than offset it. Especially if Pena only fields a little below average. Someone needs to look into this now. Or maybe this is crazy talk cause its 3:08 in the morning. Either way, its thinking like this that a team like the Reds can take a chance on. Why? Because if they can sign Eric Milton to a huge contract they better damn well be creative in other areas.

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