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Cincy Reds Preview
by Matt Fargo - 02/26/2008
2007 Record 72 Wins 90 Losses - 5th National League Central
2007 Money ($1,525) Moneyline ~ (944) Runline ~ 88-68 Over/Under
After years of starting off the season with solid play, the Reds didnâ€™t tease their fans last year as they started the year 31-51 which led to the firing of manager Jerry Narron. The good news was a finish of 41-39 which could carry over into this season that shows some promise. A new manager along with some strong young talent could turn things around. The wallets were emptied last year during the first half but there was some value had in the second half when the wins came more often.
For a team that finished 3rd in baseball in home runs and 8th in slugging percentage, the Reds should have produced more runs. However, getting on base was an issue as Cincinnati finished below average in both hitting and on-base percentage. Ken Griffey hit 30 home runs last season while shifting from center field to right and played in 144 games, his most since 2000. Adam Dunn has hit 40 or more home runs in four straight seasons but has not hit higher than .266 in his six full seasons.
A star in the making is Brandon Philips who hit 30 home runs and stole 30 bases to become only the 2nd second baseman ever to accomplish that. He is under the magical age of 27 meaning he still has more potential. The Reds need a better season from Alex Gonzalez who was dealing with personal distractions last year. This could be the last straw for Edwin Encarnacion who was supposed to be a superstar but was actually sent down to the minors last year. Rookie Jay Bruce is the best hitting prospect in baseball.
2008 Starting Pitching
The Reds finished with the worst ERA in the National League and it was a combination of both the bullpen and the rotation. The Reds have a solid one-two punch of Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo but it gets very dicey after that. Harang has won 16 games in each of the last two seasons and is considered the ace of the staff which is fitting with his consistency. Arroyo had a down season last year after a splendid 2006. The good news is that he had a 3.55 ERA after the break and hopes to carry that into 2007.
After those two, the rest of the rotation is anyoneâ€™s guess. There are eight pitchers looking to fill the three spots with Matt Belisle, Homer Bailey, Josh Fogg and Jeremy Affeldt being the top four candidates. Bailey is the young stud but his rookie season was a disaster. Cincinnati is hoping the experience pays off this year. Belisle also had a miserable season with a 5.32 ERA in 30 starts. The final two came over from Colorado with Fogg having a decent year and Affeldt coming out of the bullpen.
Speaking of bullpen, Cincinnati had the worst bullpen ERA in the Majors as well at 5.13. Allowing the opposition to hit .281 was 2nd worst in the league while 28 blown saves was ahead of only Colorado. David Weathers was the closer last season and while he wasnâ€™t the worst, he definitely was not comfortable. He moves back to his usual role of set up man as the Reds signed Francisco Cordero, who saved 44 games with the Brewers last season while blowing just seven.
Mike Stanton and Bill Bray are the two likely southpaws coming out of the pen but the real issues are on the other side. Tom Coffey was good on the road with a 4.03 ERA but he had a 7.22 ERA at home. Gary Majewski was nearly unhittable in Washington but he has an ERA over 8.00 since coming to Cincinnati two years ago. The Reds are hoping for a big turnaround. This unit needs to get stronger and in a hurry because the starting pitching is not good enough to bail the pen out.
2008 Overall Outlook
The hiring of Dusty Baker and the increase in payroll shows that the Reds want to be a contender now. The problem is that they do not have enough talent to challenge the best in the National League. Playing in the weak National League Central will help but that can only go so far. The Reds were a team that went â€˜overâ€™ more often than not and with the only upgrade in pitching being the closer, we could see more high scoring games. The offense will aid in that as well.