Forecast: Future Bright in Cincy

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Not the way to go out of the playoffs. Shutout in a Game 3. The no-hitter in Game 1. A four-run lead handed back to Philly.

No need to be depressed, Reds fans. I can barely remember an off-season with so much anticipation. And the Reds roster provides us with every bit of such. What as seen on the field this past season should pretty much remain the same next season. Let’s look around the landscape.

1B – Joey Votto. He’s probably getting a lot of heat for his NLDS performance. Mistake as this will only serve to motivate the NL MVP. Contract status: arbitration eligible but look for Walt Jocketty to try and workout a long-term contract.

2B – Brandon Phillips. BP’s bat was just starting to come around a bit, too. If he carries that forward into ’11, the Reds lineup will be just as potent, if not more, that this season. Contract status: signed through 2011, will make $11M next season. Wouldn’t be extremely shocked if a new deal is done and BP takes a bit less next season, but not surprised if it doesn’t.

SS – Orlando Cabrera. OC solidified the infield this season and his leadership was instrumental. Cabrera just plays on winning teams and winning is contagious. Yes, he’s 35. Contract status: $1M buyout or $4M mutual option. Depends if the Reds think Paul Janish is ready to be the everyday SS or if other options are available if OC returns to the Queen City.

3B – Scott Rolen. A rebirth of sorts in 2010 for Rolen. He had an awesome first half of the season but fell off in the second half. Despite his postseason errors, he showed why he’s won a Gold Glove in his day. His bat can still bite you. Contract status: Signed through 2012, to make $6.5M in both ’11 and ’12.

LF –Jonny Gomes. Experienced career highs in all power categories. The two knocks on Gomes is his free swinging and his glove. Cincy’s motivational leader. Contract status: arbitration eligible if he is bought out for $50,000, but the Reds do hold a $1.75M option for Gomes in 2011.

CF – Drew Stubbs. All that talent. Fast. Decent glove. Good arm. Hits for power. Just gotta find a way to get on base. He looks like a five-tool player, but only time will tell. Those guys are rare. Contract status: arbitration eligible. That’s a likely route just to see if Stubbs can develop a bit more from an average standpoint.

RF – Jay Bruce. Bruce proved in 2010 that he was worthy of all the hype when he first arrived on the MLB stage. His 2010 season was marked with career highs in every offensive category. And, by the way, his defensive is pretty solid, too. Right field is secure for a while. Contract status: arbitration eligible, but look for potentially a long-term deal.

C – Ramon Hernandez. Hernandez set career marks in batting average (.297) and on-base percentage (.364) in 2010. The former All-Star also provided hits in many a clutch situation this past season. Contract status: A $3.25 vesting option became void since Hernandez did not play in 120 games this past season. He is eligible for free agency.

C – Ryan Hanigan. Another player Dusty Baker liked seeing at the plate when a cluctch ht was needed. Resaon: Hanny was the only Reds player to have more walks than strikeouts and he also hit .370 with runners in scoring position. That average jumps to .476 (10-21) with RISP and 2 outs. Contract status: not eligible for arbitration until after 2011.

INF – Miguel Cairo. No question Cairo was extremely instrumental in the Reds success in 2010. He filled in for both Votto and Rolen when the situation warranted. When Cairo was in the starting lineup (40 games), he hit .307. Contract status: free agent, but he’s a Jocketty guy and I would be a tad surprised if he wsn’t a Red in 2011…unless he hangs ’em up.

INF – Paul Janish. A lot with Janish going into 2011 will greatly depend on two things…Will the Reds and Orlando Cabrera agree for OC to remain a Red and if not, does Walt Jocketty feel there are “better” options available through the free agent market. From a glove standpoint, Janish is good…very good. The question had been his bat. He did show the Reds brass he can hit when presented an opportunity. He did wear down when Cabrera was on the DL. Contract status: not eligible for arbitration until after next season

OF – Laynce Nix. Nix provided the Reds with his best season from the plate. He set career highs in batting average (.291), on-base percentage (.350) and OPS (.805). The homers and RBI were drastically down compared to ’09, but Nix help create a bit of a platoon situation in left field along with Gomes. One thing Nix can do is play all three outfeld position and his value increases because of that flexibility. Contact stats: arbitration eligible. Not sure if Nix will be back next season, but being a lety bat doesn’t hurt.

3B – Juan Francisco. Lefty bats are good, but Francisco needs to work on his defense. The issue isn’t his arm strength. That’s plenty. It’s the glove and accuracy. Contract status: not eligible for arbitration until after 2012.

OF – Chris Heisey. At the beginning of the season, Heisey was in Louisville. By the time the postseason rolled around, he was on it. Needless to say, Heisey is a keeper because he has pop and can play all three outfield positions. Contract status: not eligible for arbitration.

The main positions that could be affected by free agency or buyouts are shortstop and catcher. The catching position is pretty stable with Hanigan, but I like keeping Hernandez because he proved to be a good bat, too.

There are a couple of attractive names that are out there though. The big name is that of Victor Martinez. Don’t see that as a possibility due to the dollars he’ll command. The best option (if Hernandez is not a Red in ’11) is John Buck. He had a career year offensivle and made the AL All-Star team as a reserve.

Shortstop could be different. I addressed the potential for other options and/or if Janish is ready. As far as the other options route goes, I don’t see a whole lot…that the Reds would be willing to pay, that is. Derek Jeter and Jimmy Rollins are both free agent eligibles, but we all know the Yanks and Phils will do evertything they can to keep them. I wouldn’t be too surprised that if Philly does not win the World Series if Rollins at least looks at the market.

That all beig said, I do not see another free agent SS that can replace Cabrera as far as intiagibles. He just plays on winning teams. Some possibilities are J.J. Hardy, Omar Infante or Cesar Izturis. Not liking any of those above OC either. Maybe it is time for Janish…

I’ll look at the pitching situation tomorrow.