Hope springs eternal or so they say. The Cincinnati Reds had better hope that the youthful bats, arms, and defense they possess can get the job done. The Reds are coming off a season of disappointment in which old icons and perennial all-stars couldn't get them over the hump. The game is a simple game with a treacherous learning curve.
First, the Reds pitching rests on a sensational group of young arms starting with Edison Volquez, Jonny Cueto, and Homer Bailey. The latter of which must put up or shut up to earn his place on the team.
This team must find a return to greatness for its veteran starters Bronson Arroyo and more importantly Aaron Harang if they hope to seriously contend with Chicago and St. Louis. Micah Owings could take some of the pressure off Bailey's development. The bullpen looks surprisingly good on paper with the return of David weathers, Jared Burton, and Francisco Cordero. New names include Roenicke and Ramirez which could bolster the pitching staff.
The offense is the real question for the Reds. The days of winning games with three run homers for the Reds is over. Cincinnati will have to rely more on manufacturing runs with speed, base running and timely hitting. The boppers of Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn are gone. The names who take their place are younger, faster, and hopefully hungrier. Willy Taveras adds defense that will turn last years doubles into outs and take some of the pressure off the pitching staff.
Brandon Phillps will be the team leader with Junior gone and Young guns Joey Votto and Jay Bruce with have to shoulder the Power demands for this team. Johnny Gomes needs to have a breakout year to help this team find its way to the promised land.
The bench was a point of concern, but now may be a big plus with Darryl Ward and Jaques Jones freshly added to the likes of Chris Dickerson and Jerry Hairston Jr. This move will help add depth to a team that has been bitten by the injury bug for the better part of a decade. Norris Hopper is in the game plan because of his speed and his excellent bunting ability. The defense should be markedly improved due to the speed and youth on this team.
The story is yet to be written on the 2009 Cincinnati Reds, but on paper they look to be a much better bet to compete for a playoff spot this Season due to change in philosophy. The Reds will play like an old time National league team with speed and finesse. Don't look for power ball play of years gone bye, look for a team that has the same chemistry that won a World Championship in 1990. The only pitfalls this team must watch out for are injuries, and egos. The Cincinnati Reds are my "sleeper" pick to make the playoffs. How about you? whats your take? Take the poll or leave me a comment.