Young Players, New Additions, and Strong Pitching Staff Are Keys for Reds

Evan CohenCorrespondent IJanuary 25, 2009

With Spring Training just around the corner, the Reds are ready to start a new season. After a long and productive off-season, will the Reds have enough to make a run at the NL Central title?

Walt Jocketty, the Reds' GM, signed center fielder Willy Tavarez and traded utility man Ryan Freel for catcher Ramon Hernandez. 

Hernandez played catcher for the Baltimore Orioles last season. He is a career .262 hitter and has 137 home runs. He will be a major key in helping the Reds contend this year.

With the key addition of Tavarez, the Reds got a great leadoff hitter, a speedy base runner, and a great center fielder. He will play center field this year so Jay Bruce can move back to his old stomping grounds in left field.

The pitching staff will actually be a bright spot this year. It will be led by veterans Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo with support from Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, and Micah Owings.

Francisco Cordero is coming off a great season. Also, with the addition of Arthur Rhodes and the re-signing of David Weathers and Mike Lincoln, the bullpen could be the dark horse of the Reds team.

Brandon Phillips, coming off his Gold Glove, leads a young but strong group of infielders into the new year. Joey Votto and Jeff Keppinger are both coming off excellent years and the emergence of Edwin Encarnacion as a strong third baseman will help.

I believe the Reds will go 86-76, win the Wild Card, and get knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.