Rolen hits a two-run home run in the 7th inning against the O's at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. (Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE)

2012 NL Central Sneak Peek: Cincinnati Reds


Well, we’re at the end of the sneak peeks, and what better way to finish the deal than peeking in at the Cincinnati Reds. I gave us all a week to digest the sneak peeks at the other five teams.

There is no question the anticipation of the 2012 season and the numerous roster moves GM Walt Jocketty made during the off-season has brought about huge expectations for this season. Those expectations are larger than previous to last year, and those were large as well. The ideal scenario is a World Series title, but there are matters which the Reds must overcome to claim that.

With the help of Staff Writer Justin Suer, we bring you the Reds sneak peak…

JS: Will Scott Rolen make a healthy contribution in 120+ games?

SE: The Reds need a minimum of 120 healthy games from Rolen. We’ve all seen what his presence means to this team. The odd stat is that the Reds were 31-34 in those 65 games and 28-32 in his the games in which Rolen started. That differes from the norm as the Reds are about a .570 club when Roeln’s in the lineup. I believe Reds fans would take those 120 games along with 15 HR, 65 RBI and a .270 batting average. Those are pretty darn close to his 2010 numbers (20, 66, .285), a year where Rolen played in 133 games.

JS: Will Aroldis Chapman improve his command?

SE: Well, considering the current situation with Chapman possibly moving back to the bullpen, it is imperative that Chapman harness his control. Not that it wasn’t an issue before the injury to Bill Bray. I think we did see the Cuban Missile improve on that after his time on the disabled list followed by his time on his rehab assignment. The days of 105 may be gone, but hitting triple digits along with that devastating slider could spell doom for opposing hitters again in 2012.

JS: Are young players Zack Cozart and Devin Mesoraco ready for the big leagues?

SE: Their minor league numbers indicate they are. Referring back to my post from Friday, they have to be ready in order for the Reds to contend. If they aren’t, I’m a bit more confident with the catching scenario with Dioner Navarro and Corky Miller. Shortstop is still thin despite the deal for Wilson Valdez.

Key position player: I believe it is Scott Rolen. If his health is where we hear it is, he lends a positive outlook, not only to Reds fans, but to his teammates as well. For the record, Justin says it is Zack Cozart. Hard to deny that one.

Key pitcher: Bronson Arroyo. We know the rotation has stusa atop with Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos. There’s the young arms of Mike Leake and Homer Bailey on the back end. Arroyo as the middle man is critical as he attempts to recreate his 2010 season. If he does, things look better. If he struggles as he did in 2011, it could be another long season.

Again, Justin differs from me as he feels it is Latos. Having four guys traded for your services can place some harsh demands on the “one”.

Division predictions?

1. Reds
2. Brewers
3. Cards
4. Pirates
5. Cubs
6. Astros

The Brewers did slighlty more to replace Prince Fielder than the Cards did to replace Albert Pujols, as if the last is even possible. With the recent news of Chris Carpenter having a bulging disc in his neck, that could set the Cards back more. Make no mistake, the Cards still have a good offense without #5.

For the final time, Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends adds a couple of fantasy baseball tidbits for you.

Top Position Player: Joey Votto is the choice, but Jay Bruce narrowed the gap last year. Votto, the 2010 MVP, should continue to put up monster numbers. He’s easily a top five fantasy first baseman, and the number one choice in NL-Only leagues now that Pujols and Fielder changed sides.

Top Pitcher: Mat Latos is going from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s park so the jury is still out. He still managed a 3.68 ERA last year and a 3.14 ERA in 2010 away from PETCO.

Fantasy Sleeper: Shortstop Zack Cozart hit .324 in 11 games before getting injured. Prior to getting called up he hit .310 with a .824 OPS for Triple-A Louisville.

If you missed the other five NL Central teams, don’t worry. Here are the links for the others. Click on the team and you’re off to that team’s sneak peek.

Brewers (with Reviewing the Brew’s Editor Lou Olsen)
Cardinals (with Chris Carelli, Senior Editor of Redbird Rants)
Pirates (with Rum Bunter’s Senior Editor Tom Smith)
Cubs (joined by Cubbies Crib’s Jordan Campbell, Senior Editor)
Astros (Climbing Tal’s Hill Senior Editor Greg Thurston in tow)

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Tags: Aroldis Chapman Baseball Cincinnati Reds Devin Mesoraco MLB Scott Rolen Zack Cozart

  • beeker

    Getting 120 games out of Rolen would surprise me, because Walt may want to be more cautious than that with him. But it would be a great indictor for the Reds because it means that he is producing and feeling good enough to play that often. 

  • Steven Engbloom

     @beeker That’s the guide for me. If he’s a little short, say about 5 games, I won’t mind. Over on Fangraphs, Bill James has him projected at 109 games, ZiPS has him only at 84. If it’s 84, oh-oh…