The Cincinnati Reds Biggest Needs for 2015

facebooktwitterreddit posted an interesting look at the NL Central on how teams have fared since the beginning of the hot stove season. If you have not read how Mark Sheldon views the Reds, I can save you a little time, but I provided the link so you can read up on the other teams as well. You know what they say: keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Simply put, the Reds have two areas Sheldon feels the Reds needs improvement: offense and the bullpen. And when I hear offense, I have a laundry list of concerns for next season. Here’s what I got, and if you have additional items to add, please state so in the comments section.

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As far as the Reds offense is concerned. two pivotal players were “missing” last season. Their absences were of different terms. Joey Votto missed 100 games due to leg issues. Maybe even more discouraging is that he posted a very un-Votto-like slashline of .255/.390/.409. The batting average was a career low as was the SLG. Even though Votto was healthy enough to play the last week of the season, I believe the team made the right call in not playing him.

And we would all like to forget the season Jay Bruce had. He’d like to forget it, too.

But let’s play make-believe and Votto and Bruce will be back next season and completely healthy and productive. I look at two positions as offensive voids: left field and shortstop. Here’s some numbers to lend credence to that. Let’s start with left field and the NL averages in some stats.

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I noted some of these numbers when it was discussed about Chris Heisey‘s projections. And almost every website does currently show Heisey as the 2015 projected starting left fielder. Now, we know the Reds are looking to improve, but as of yet, no transactions has been made that would give us any hope for that. Perhaps we’ll see some movement at the Winter Meetings. Perhaps…

Concerning shortstop, we all know Zack Cozart is among the best defenders in the game. I’d say no less than top 5, but the stick is a bit thin (maybe some would suggest a lot thin) as you will see in comparison to NL averages.

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With this, you have to ask yourself if you are willing to take away from arguably the NL’s best “up the middle” defense in order to add some more pop to the lineup.

In essence, the Reds will upgrade in tow areas provided they can be healthy. They will be looking to trades and free agents to upgrade left field, and who knows their stance at short. I think they will stand pat there unless something mind-blowing comes along.

So as for the bullpen, 2014 was not the season the relievers have produced in the past. Again, there is a list of reasons this occurred. Take into consideration the “off seasons” from the trio of Sam LeCure, J.J. Hoover and Manny Parra, and that’s just the beginning.

Look at these numbers versus the National League averages:

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Notice the SO/BB ratio for the Reds. Yes, Aroldis Chapman is a member of the bullpen, and the Reds did have the best SO/9 among all NL ‘pens. So you might figure this should be a little higher. Then you realize the Reds relievers issued the most walks (208) of any NL bullpen. And because off all the free passes, their SO/BB ration was the lowest in the NL.

In comparing the 2014 ‘pen to those of the past couple of years, one aspect I don’t hear mentioned all that much is that of Alfredo Simon. Did the conversion from reliever to starter create as big a hole within the relief corps? It’s possible as Simon has that versatility thing going. He can go long, set up, and close.

The question I ask is Walt Jocketty up to this challenge? There is more than one hole to fill, and you wonder how much money the ownership will allow Walt to play with. I also get apprehensive since four of the five starters can walk after 2015 that Jocketty could get a little too skittish in making a deal. I have a feeling I’m not alone on that either.