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Getting to Know the Enemy: Cincinnati Reds
MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers

Every Monday until the start of the season, I’ll preview one of the Brewers’ division rivals.  In addition to recapping the last season, we’ve tried to get bloggers to answer a few questions about their team, because really, who knows what’s going on better than the team’s own fans? First we took a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Then it was the Cubs.  This week, it’s the Cincinnati Reds.

2009 Finish: 78-84, 4th NL Central

Last Season in a Nutshell: It seems like every year, we’re told to look out for the Reds — they’re on the rise, and now that all of that great minor league talent is in the Majors, they’ll contend for a playoff spot.  Last season looked like the year they would finally live up to the preseason hype, as they were just two games out of first on the 4th of July.  It all went downhill from there, though — Edinson Volquez was shut down for the year and needed Tommy John surgery (more on that in a minute) and Jay Bruce broke his wrist a few weeks later.  Despite a horrible July, the Reds made a move at the deadline for Scott Rolen, giving up Brewer Killer Edwin Encarnacion and prospects to Toronto.  The Reds finished under .500 once again, extending their losing season streak to 9 years.

2010 Prediction:
I’d feel a lot better about this team if we knew Volquez was going to pitch at all this season.  At this time, it seems like even that’s in doubt.  I don’t think they have the pitching to contend with St. Louis without him…peg them for another 3rd or 4th place finish.

Q&A: Nate Dunlevy of 18to88.com

Cincinnati seems to be a trendy pick to at least push for a wildcard spot out of the NL Central.  Is there anything that could keep the Reds from realizing their potential?

The Reds are still smarting from the unconscionable trade of Adam Dunn.  They have no left fielder, and other than Joey Votto, the rest of their offense is suspect at best.  Outside of Jay Bruce’s first month in the majors, he has yet to show he can actually hit big league pitching.  Scott Rolen has played fewer than 130 games in four of five seasons.  The Reds have no infield depth.  It would take miraculous injury free year for this team to contend.

Is Dusty Baker to blame for Edinson Volquez needing Tommy John surgery?  Or is his negative effect on young pitchers overblown, in your opinion?

There’s no evidence that Dusty had anything to do with Volquez needing surgery.  There’s a reason the Texans traded him, so my guess is that he was always headed for arm trouble.    I will say that it’s frustrating to have a team full of young pitchers working with a manager whose has the rep for being a destroyer of young arms.

After a rough start to his career, Homer Bailey seemed to turn it on at the end of last season (2.08 ERA in September/October).  Is he finally starting to turn into that ace that the Reds have been waiting for him to be?

HoBo seems to have figured it out.  By all accounts he’s grown up and matured tremendously and his early struggles have had a positive effect on his personality.  Let’s just say it’s a good thing the Reds didn’t deal him for Jermaine Dye.

Orlando Cabrera seems like a solid addition at short from an outsider’s perspective, but what do the fans think?  Are they in favor of the move, or did they want to see Paul Janish get another crack at the job?

Cabrera is a legitimate big league player.  Paul Janish is not.  The Cabrera signing gave me some modicum of hope for the season.  The Reds have had a black hole at short since Larkin retired.  Cabrera isn’t the answer, but at least he should be average.  If the Reds had a center and left fielder as average as Cabrera, I’d feel a lot better about the year.

What’s the outlook on Aroldis Chapman?  How long is he going to need in the minors before he can make an impact for the big league club?

Because the Reds are so deep in the starting rotation, I see no need to rush Chapman.  He should open the year in AA, and if the team falls out of contention and deals Harang or Arroyo, then they can give him a look. 

The bottom line with the Reds is that they are still a year away. There are too many holes and too many positions manned by aged vets unlikely to hold up for 162 games.  They have no depth at all and cannot absorb even one injury.  IF Cueto becomes Cy Young (which could happen), and Arroyo and HoBo pitch all season like they did in the second half last year AND Harang comes back to where he was, then yes, this team could contend for a wild card spot.  Honestly, I feel like the offense will be so horrid that they are still closer to the bottom of the pack than the top.