Mar 24, 2013, 9:43 PM EDT
Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2013 season. Up next: The Cincinnati Reds.
The Big Question: Is this the Reds’ year?
It certainly has that feel. The Reds tallied 97 wins in 2012 and made a massive roster upgrade this winter, acquiring outfielder Shin-Soo Choo from the Indians as part of a three-team, nine-player trade that also involved the Diamondbacks. Shoo boasts a shiny .289/.381/.465 career batting line and will finally bring some stability to Cincinnati’s leadoff spot. Reds leadoff men hit .208/.254/.327 last season.
First baseman Joey Votto has led the National League in on-base percentage for three straight years, Brandon Phillips is probably the best defensive second baseman in the bigs and has averaged 21 homers per season since 2006. Ryan Ludwick, who was re-signed to a two-year, $15 million free agent contract in December, posted an .877 OPS, 26 home runs and 80 RBI in 125 games last summer. Right fielder Jay Bruce carries MVP upside, Todd Frazier brings the thunder at third base and Zack Cozart has flashed good power potential while playing a fine shortstop. Then there’s catcher Ryan Hanigan, who owns a .370 career OBP and draws rave reviews from those in the know for the way he handles the Cincinnati pitching staff.
The Reds also have decent depth in young backup catcher Devin Mesoraco and outfielder Chris Heisey. Utility infielder Jason Donald came over in the Choo trade and Jack Hannahan was signed as a free agent.
This is a team with ample big bats and a home stadium that caters well to raw power. Boom, suckas.
What Else Is Going On?
- The outfield defense is iffy. Choo has started only 10 games in center field in his eight-year major league career, but that’s where he’ll play the majority of the time in 2013. Ludwick has good instincts, but he turns 35 years old in July and isn’t suddenly going to gain more defensive range. Bruce possesses a big arm but can’t be considered speedy. The group should do fine at Great American Ball Park — where the dimensions are tight — but there might be some unintentional comedy this year on the road.
- The Reds’ top-five starters only missed one total outing in 2012 — and it was the nightcap of a mid-August doubleheader. That crew carries good health into 2013 and should again be one of the better rotations in the National League. Johnny Cueto finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting last year after posting a 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 170/49 K/BB ratio across 217 innings. Mat Latos was also excellent, posting a 3.48 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 185/64 K/BB ratio in 209 1/3 frames. Bronson Arroyo continued his inning-eating ways, Homer Bailey took a leap forward and Mike Leake was solid in bringing up the rear.
- Aroldis Chapman was expected to finally make the transition from reliever to starter this spring, but the Reds cut the chord on that plan earlier this month. The flame-throwing lefty expressed a desire to remain in the bullpen and it’s what manager Dusty Baker wanted. Chapman’s value can be better maximized when he’s throwing more innings, but feeling comfortable is important too and he should again excel in the ninth-inning role. Setting him up this year will be Jonathan Broxton, who was signed to a three-year, $21 million contract this winter, and Sean Marshall, one of the steadiest middle relievers in the game.
- Start stocking up on popcorn for the Billy Hamilton show. The 22-year-old speedster is converting from shortstop to center field and is scheduled to make his MLB debut at some point in 2013. He stole a record 155 bases in 132 games last season between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola while managing to hit .311/.410/.420. Baseball America ranks him the 11th-best prospect in the sport.
Prediction: First place in the National League Central, surpassing 100 victories.
Mar 27, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
No word on “yicketty.”
Mar 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
The Braves had one of the stranger off-seasons, both adding and subtracting players while also attempting to rebuild. How bad will they be in 2015?
Mar 27, 2015, 11:28 AM EDT
So far so good in Tanaka’s attempt to avoid Tommy John surgery.
Mar 27, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT
Good intentions are never enough.
Mar 27, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT
Howie Kendrick’s replacement.
Mar 27, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Ludwick signed a minor-league deal with the Rangers in early February and it would have paid $1.75 million if he made the team at age 36.
Mar 27, 2015, 9:39 AM EDT
But it probably doesn’t matter because a reinstated Rose would be pretty limited to begin with.
Mar 27, 2015, 9:14 AM EDT
And 15 MLB teams are now worth at least $1 billion, according to Forbes.
Mar 27, 2015, 8:42 AM EDT
Dave Righetti thinks it may have to do with weight training.
Mar 27, 2015, 7:47 AM EDT
Kudos to Epstein for a good answer. Kudos to Schilling for a couple of more probing questions.
Mar 26, 2015, 11:02 PM EDT
In a first-person essay for The Player’s Tribune, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz came out swinging against his critics.
Mar 26, 2015, 9:50 PM EDT
The Mets are keeping an eye on the Dodgers and Rockies as they look to replace Josh Edgin.
Mar 26, 2015, 9:10 PM EDT
Are they ready to contend?
Mar 26, 2015, 8:29 PM EDT
Robertson signed a four-year, $46 million deal with the White Sox over the winter to be their new closer.
Mar 26, 2015, 7:31 PM EDT
After failing to reach an agreement with the Astros last year, unsigned No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken underwent Tommy John surgery.
Mar 26, 2015, 6:25 PM EDT
It will be Gallardo’s sixth straight Opening Day start and first as a member of the Rangers.
Mar 26, 2015, 5:32 PM EDT
Even after all of these years, baseball’s preeminent B.S. shoveler remains on top of his game.
Mar 26, 2015, 4:07 PM EDT
Which doesn’t mean that Citi Field has gotten less safe. It does mean, however, that the Mets will have a much harder job convincing people of that.
Mar 26, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
Burton had a 4.36 ERA and 46/25 K/BB ratio in 64 innings for the Twins last season.
Mar 26, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT
Archer will be the first pitcher other than David Price or James Shields to start Opening Day for the Rays since 2007.
- 2015 Preview: Atlanta Braves 4
- David Ortiz: “Nobody in MLB history has been tested for PEDs more than me” 88
- 2015 Preview: Chicago Cubs 13
- Unsigned 2014 No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken undergoes Tommy John surgery 55
- 2015 Preview: Seattle Mariners 15
- Cardinals add “OT” patch for Oscar Taveras 76
- 2015 Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates 13
- 2015 Preview: San Diego Padres 22
- Ex-Cardinals outfielder Curt Ford was assaulted in St. Louis and told to “go back to Ferguson” (115)
- College baseball player cut after making offensive tweet about Mo’ne Davis (115)
- Mo’ne Davis says college ballplayer who wrote an offensive tweet about her deserves a second chance (88)
- David Ortiz: “Nobody in MLB history has been tested for PEDs more than me” (88)
- Cardinals add “OT” patch for Oscar Taveras (76)