It is nearly impossible to predict who will win the World Series, especially in the early stages of the offseason. However, a position by position break down shows us that the Reds may not be as close as we think they are.
Starting Pitching Staff – A
I may just be a proud Reds fan, but I do believe that we have the No. 3 pitching staff in the NL. With Johnny Cueto as good as most pitchers when he is health, the man who seemingly never loses in Matt Latos, a two-time No Hitting Pitcher in Homer Bailey, a decent middle of the rotation guy in Mike Leake, and a soon to be filled void from Arroyo in Tony Cingrani (who played phenomenal in his rookie year) this starting rotation has done pretty well. This is the projected rotation for next season assuming that Bronson Arroyo does leave in the Free Agency period.
Relief Pitching – B
I would grade this higher if it were not for the injuries that the team sustained throughout the season. With Sean Marshall and Jonathon Broxton missing the bulk of the season as your right-handed set-up and you left-handed set-up man, it hurts. However, this is not to take away from the great jobs that Sam LeCure and Alfredo Simon did in stepping up.
We all know that Aroldis Chapman can be virtually unhittable at times, but due to sporadic outings that result in a multitude of walks periodically it drops the overall grade. Plus there was a time near the All-Star break where it seemed like every time LeCure came in I would have to hold my breath. But overall a good job.
Catcher – C
When you have a young, unproven catcher in Devin Mesoraco, and a free agent signing in Pena (who knows what the Reds get out of him), it can send up some flags and question marks.
1st Base – A
I do believe that Joey Votto is a good first basemen. We all have different points of view on what is considered “productive” offensively. I do appreciate the amount of time Votto gets on base. I do appreciate the runs he scores. Do I wish he would drive in more runs? Yes, but overall, when his head is in the right place, he is pretty good.
2nd Base – (B+) ?
The reason I say this is because I have no idea if Brandon Phillips is going to be a Red next season. If he is, you can always expect great defense, and a versatile bat. I do believe he had a good season last season. He drove in 100+ RBI from the No. 4 spot (and yes those guys are paid to drive in runs. They are called a clean up hitter for a reason). Did his numbers dip a little towards the end? Yes, but overall I think we can all agree he isn’t bad.
Now, if he isn’t here, you need to find a replacement. Whether that be a free agent, a trade or simply moving Billy Hamilton back to his natural habitat, it remains to be seen.
3rd Base – C
Defense is only half the battle. While Frazier is still young, you have to believe that he is struggling. Hitting under .240 last season is not an accomplishment. He struck out over 100+ times and for a guy that only hit sub .240 and drove in under 75 RBI, the production was lacking.
Short Stop – C
I feel like I can say the same for Zack Cozart. While he is great on defense, he has struggled on offense. He did have a bit more of a respectable average than Frazier eclipsing the .250 mark, and I know he is at a position that doesn’t historically require a whole of of offensive production, but as a middle infielder the stereotype is that you are supposed to be able to bunt and handle the bat. Neither of which does Cozart do exceptionally well.
Left Field – (D)?
How can we rate a position for which the starter has not contributed but for only a month in the last season and a half. The facts are that Ryan Ludwick had a decent season with the Reds in 2012, and is aging. He is over 35 years old, and now has a hurt arm. Whether is has completely healed or not is unknown, but judging on how he did in the last month to month and a half of the season, he does not fair well.
Center Field – ?
If somehow the Reds and Walt Jocketty surprise me, then I will edit the rating to an A, but for now, we don’t know who will start on Opening Day. Some argue that it will be Billy Hamilton, and some say not. If it is Hamilton the MOST I can give is a C just because we don’t know if he can truly hit or hold up for an entire season. 14 at-bats is not a large enough sample size.
Right Field – A
Two-time Silver Slugger and multiple time Gold Glove snub Jay Bruce is pretty solid. Yes, he strikes out a lot, but he is a homerun guy. He is the 30 HR and 100+ RBI guy that every team needs in the middle of their line up. Yes, he can be streaky, that much is house hold knowledge, but without him in the lineup this team would be lacking.
Bench – C
Jack Hannahan and Cesar Izturis just did not cut it last season, but with the recent addition of Skip Schumaker, the bench improves over last season. Unfortunately with Xavier Paul leaving for Baltimore, Chris Heisey will have to finally solidify himself, or maybe Jason Bourgeois can step up.
Coaching Staff – ?
How can we realistically rate a staff that has no experience? In terms of a pitching coach, Brian Price was great, but he has no managerial experience anywhere, ever. I would like to think he is an improvement over Dusty Baker, I would think anyone without a tooth pick would be. At the end of the day, you just can’t do it.
So to Sum Up:
SP – A
1B – A
2B – ?
3B – C
SS – C
LF – ?
CF – ?
RF – A
CS – ?
We may be farther than we think we are, but then again, there is a whole offseason to go, and maybe Brian Price turns out to be pretty good. Then again, there is a whole offseason with Walt Jocketty to go, and we have no idea what to expect from him.
Tags: Cincinnati Reds