SportsPickle is previewing each MLB team in the lead up to Opening Day 2010.
Today:Cincinnati Reds (2009: 78-84, 4th in NL Central)
STARTING PITCHING The Reds can contend this year but they need consistency from their starting rotation. "Ace" Aaron Harang is 12-31 with a 4.51 ERA over the past two seasons. He has deservedly been harang'd for this on sports radio (if he's not going to put in an effort on the mound, I won't put an effort into wordplay). After him is Bronson Arroyo, who you can pencil in for 15 wins. Or losses. He's capable of both. Then the rotation gets younger with Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey. Cueto, 24, has shown flashes, which is a term I've heard legitimate baseball people use, so I thought I'd give it a try. (Fun!) And Bailey is a former top prospect who pitched well down the stretch last season; Dusty Baker should have him in for elbow surgery by the All-Star break. The wild card in the rotation is 22-year-old Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, who can throw 100 mph. Fun Fact: Chapman built his arm strength in Cuba under the direction of Fidel Castro, who had him try to throw Cuban astronauts into space.
LINEUP Cincinnati's lineup also has great potential. Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce and Joey Votto can all put up big numbers. And they must in order to pick up some of the veteran dead weight in the batting order, such as third baseman Scott Rolen, who tragically passed away in 2006 but whose corpse is playing out the remainder of his contract. A true gamer to the end!
BULLPEN Cincinnati's bullpen had the third-lowest ERA in the NL last year at 3.56. Despite that, pitching coach Dick Pole was fired after the season. A relevant Dick Pole reference. My work here is done. Moving along
BENCH The bench includes Paul Janish, Aaron Miles, Ryan Hanigan, and Chris Dickerson. If you have heard of more than one of those guys, you are likely on the Reds. Best of luck on your 2010 season! And thanks for reading!
OUTLOOK If Cincinnati is going to make the playoffs this year, its young players will have to grow up fast. It's on Dusty Baker to teach them the game. Considering he once almost got his own 3-year-old son killed at home plate in a World Series game, Reds fans shouldn't hold out much hope.