Team preview: Cincinnati Reds

BY John Halpin • February 8, 2011

Projected lineup

1. CF: Drew Stubbs
2. 2B: Brandon Phillips
3. 1B: Joey Votto
4. 3B: Scott Rolen
5. RF: Jay Bruce
6. LF: Jonny Gomes
7. C: Ryan Hanigan/Ramon Hernandez
8. SS: Paul Janish

Projected rotation

1. SP: Johnny Cueto
2. SP: Edinson Volquez
3. SP: Bronson Arroyo
4. SP: Homer Bailey
5. SP: Travis Wood
CL: Francisco Cordero

Five tips:

• The Reds seem to be deciding between Stubbs and Phillips for the leadoff spot. Stubbs takes more pitches but strikes out more than Phillips, so stay tuned. Wherever Stubbs ends up, he’s the official fantasy man crush of 2011. I’ve got him 26th among outfielders and 70th overall. If you don’t want a guy who hit 22 homers, scored 91 runs and stole 30 bases in his first full season, I don’t know what to tell you.

• The Reds say they’re planning 120 games for Rolen, which basically means he’s going to have scheduled absences, in addition to the probable DL time. Hopefully, the more limited schedule will prevent him from getting hurt this year, but we’ll see.

• I’m officially on the "Jay Bruce for 35 homers" bandwagon again. Who’s with me? Come on, he’s only age 24, and has an .800 OPS in three seasons. The breakout is coming.

• Hanigan is a sleeper as a second catcher in standard leagues. He’s posted some strong batting averages in the minors, and five homers in 203 at bats last season showed a little pop. He’s probably safer than some of the bad batting average guys you’ll be considering at the same point on draft day, and has some upside.

• Volquez is 60th in my starter rankings. He’s very talented, has a great strikeout rate, and will be in his second year back from Tommy John surgery. He’s also wild, and was the same way before the elbow doctors did their work. There’s promise here, but don’t get overexcited.

Plus:

Odd man out: The Reds signed Edgar Renteria in January, but made a point to say that the light-hitting Janish is still the starter at shortstop. The loser of the battle for the final rotation spot – likely Mike Leake since Bailey is out of options – will probably head to the bullpen.

Top prospects: Aroldis Chapman came up late last year – probably to stay – so we won’t count him for this exercise. Catcher Devin Mesoraco had a power breakout last season (with 26 homers), and could hit his way to Cincinnati sometime during the season.

Backup closer: Since Chapman is ticketed for a spot in the bullpen this season, he’s a clear-cut choice to step in if Cordero’s fading skills go off a cliff. Do you really think they’re going to say, "Let’s have someone else close, and keep the guy who throws 105 in a setup role?"


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