Reds Up/Reds Down: NL Central Ups & Downs in 2011

This week I thought I would let the heat in Goodyear settle and go in a different direction. Every year, we see guys who come out of no where to log great seasons, be they young guys getting their shot or a free agent who needed a change of scenery. Conversely, sometimes you see a player put in a great season or have an exaggerated reputation then proceed to lay an egg. This evening the subject will be a few of those potential up and down players within the NL Central. And yes, I know the name of this piece is REDS up and REDS down. Think of this as one of those songs whose title has absolutely nothing to do with any lyrics. I think that makes sense…okay.

Reds Up

Drew Stubbs, Reds CF – Count me as one of the many who see Stubbs taking a hint from Jay Bruce of 2010 and starting to put things together. While Stubbs’ 2010 was not bad (counting as one of two players league wide to log 20 homers, 30 steals, and 90 runs scored last season, the other was Hanley Ramirez) Reds fans in particular know that Stubbs has the potential to be more. With some work on patience at the plate and learning a little bunting, Stubbs could prove to be a weapon near the top of the order for the Reds in 2011.

Neil Walker, Bucs 2B – My admiration of Walker has been documented in the past and I really feel that he could prove to be a fixture for the Pirates. It’s not a stretch to say that he could throw his hat in the ring for the mantle of best 2B in the Central. His power is impressive for 2B and looks to improve and he is bound to get better as the other youthful players in Pittsburgh progress around him.

Tyler Colvin, Cubs LF – Colvin proved to be a hitter that scared me on a semi-regular basis as a Reds fan in 2010. That’s a pretty good feat being a rookie seeing his first big league action. I was impressed with his power (20 HR in 358 AB) and should be get regular time in Chicago in 2011, he looks to improve.

Reds Down

Carlos Lee, Astros LF – Lee can safely be called a corpse at this point. His numbers took a dip last year from his average and his defense is becoming a major liability. The 34 year old looks to be on the permanent downturn and hoping for a resurgence in 2011 might prove saddening. He also has two more years left on his 6 year $100 million deal…sorry Houston.

Jaime Garcia, Cards SP – Garcia was a breakout rookie in 2010 logging a 2.70 ERA and winning 13 games for the Cardinals. I sniff a bit of a fall back to earth for Garcia in 2011 on a gut feeling that his breakout may have been more luck and opponents’ lack of familiarity that pure dominance. We may see what can be more accurately expected from Garcia in 2011 rather than basing assumptions on 2010.

Corey Hart, Brewers RF – As much as I want to believe in the fellow Kentuckian (and fellow avid UK fan…GO WILDCATS!), I cannot help but be a cynic about Hart’s 2010 performance. After averaging 19 HRs a year the previous three years, Hart exploded for 31 dingers in 2010. Ditto for his above-career average BA and OBP. I usually tend to be wary of spikes like these as there is a better than likely chance Hart will go back to his prior form. While that prior form was a pretty good outfielder, I just don’t expect another 30-HR 100-RBI season from Mr. Hart.