Cincinnati Reds: Offseason Problems Facing the Team
After another season of Cincinnati Reds baseball, the team is moving into the offseason looking to upgrade in hopes of making a run at a World Series in 2013.
The Reds have three big problems to address this offseason.
The first is the leadoff spot in the order.
All in all, nine different players occupied the first spot in the Reds lineup. Those nine players hit a combined .208/.254/.327 with 16 HR, 38 RBI and 83 runs scored.
Everyone seems to single in on Drew Stubbs for this problem and while he didn't do well batting there, it was Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart who had the most at-bats in this slot.
Phillips and Cozart combined for 557 of the team's 703 leadoff at-bats and batted .219/.260/.362 with 16 HR, 33 RBI and 65 runs scored.
The two can hit for extra bases, as shown in their 47 extra base hits; however, the two struck out 105 times and walked only 27 times.
When you look again at all of the Reds leadoff batters this season, you'll note that they strike out a lot (147 times) and walk very little (37 walks).
The most telling stat of the Reds leadoff woes is their 2.67 runs created/27 outs.
That's dead last in the National League and for those wondering where the Reds offense went this year, and particularly this postseason, it was swallowed up by the first spot in the batting order.
Even with a poor showing for Phillips leading off, he could still be the answer for the Reds.
In his career, Phillips has started 149 games hitting leadoff. In those games, he's compiled 631 at-bats slashing .265/.325/.426 with with 21 HR, 63 RBI, 91 runs scored and 27 doubles.
Although these are far better than this season's leadoff platoon, Phillips is a much better hitter when batting second or fourth. Phillips is a .279/.322/.427 hitter in the two hole and a .282/.331/.454 hitter when batting fourth.
The answer either needs to come from somewhere else in the lineup or via free agency or a trade.
The Reds fifth spot in the rotation may be another area of concern for the Reds.
Mike Leake was the Reds' fifth starter this year and we all know how that went.
In 30 starts, Leake pitched to a 8-9 record, 4.58 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 116 strikeouts to 41 walks all while allowing a whopping 26 HR.
In his only postseason start, Leake went 4.1 innings allowing five earned runs on six hits including two home runs.
Mike Leake was, by far, the worst starting pitcher in the Reds' starting rotation.
Unless Leake shows significant improvement in spring training and the first month or two of the season, the Reds could be looking to replace him in the rotation.
What is the Reds biggest issue?
Possible options for replacement include Tony Cingrani, Daniel Corcino and possibly even Sam LeCure.
The final area of concern for the Reds is center field. As I mentioned before, Drew Stubbs had a horrendous season. In 136 games, Stubbs batted .218/.277/.333 with 14 HR, 40 RBI and 70 runs scored.
Stubbs has great speed and is a tremendous outfielder; however, his inability to get on-base and his high strikeout totals have proven to be his downfall.
Stubbs has eclipsed 160 strikeouts in each of the last three seasons including 2011 where he led the National League with 205.
The Reds will need to address center field if they are going to take the next step toward a World Series.
Possible methods for replacement include a platoon with Chris Heisey allowing Stubbs to earn the job back, trading for a new center fielder or signing one of the many free-agent outfielders.
Ultimately, these look to be the three biggest areas of concern for the Reds.
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