Can the Cincinnati Reds Surprise People in 2009?

Sergio ValdezContributor IIMarch 26, 2009

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 03: Jonny Gomes #31 of the Cincinnati Reds is greeted at the plate by Wilkin Castillo #26, Yonder Alonso #77 and Chris Valaika #64 after hitting a grand slam, helping lift the Reds over the Boston Red Sox 9-8 at the City of Palms Park on March 3, 2009 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Reds had a dismal year in 2008, going 74-88. The season saw the departures of their top two veteran players—Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. I believe they will improve and do much better in 2009, even under Dusty Baker.

Top Performers

Joey Votto: .297/.368/.506, 102/59 K/BB, 24 HR, 7/12 SB
Edinson Volquez: 196 IP, 206/93 K/BB, 3.21 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 140 ERA+
Jared Burton: 59 IP, 58/25 K/BB, 3.22 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 140 ERA+
Edwin Encarnacion: .251/.340/.406, 102/61 K/BB, 26 HR, 1/1 SB

Biggest Disappointment(s)

Brandon Phillips: .261/.312/.442, 21 HR, 93/39 K/BB, 23/33 SB

Biggest Plus(es)

Their bullpen was very solid in 2008, and it will be a big help to some of the young pitchers in their rotation.

Biggest Concern(s)

Their rotation was pretty shaky last year, though it should see improvement.

There are also still some questions about their outfield outside of Jay Bruce.

Key Additions

Ramon Hernandez, Arthur Rhodes, Wily Taveras

Key Losses:

Corey Patterson, Jeremy Affeldt, Josh Fogg

Breakout Candidate(s)

Jay Bruce was a highly regarded prospect entering his first season and had a good rookie campaign. Expect him to improve across the board in '09.

Ramon Hernandez is an aged veteran, but he could still see his numbers improve and be a valuable asset at catcher as he moves to the Great American Launching Pad.

Key(s) To Success

Their starting pitching is probably the biggest thing for them to improve on. Harang had a bad year due to some bad managing, and Cueto, after starting out strong, performed poorly for most of the season.

I'd expect both of them to improve a lot, and hopefully Micah Owings will perform well for them at the back of the rotation.

They also need to see improvement defensively from Encarnacion, and they need Phillips to bounce back after a relatively poor campaign.

Projected Lineup

C: Ramon Hernandez
1B: Joey Votto
2B: Brandon Phillips
SS: Alex Gonzalez/Jeff Keppinger
3B: Edwin Encarnacion
LF: Chris Dickerson
CF: Wily Taveras
RF: Jay Bruce

Projected Rotation

Edinson Volquez
Aaron Harang
Johnny Cueto
Bronson Arroyo
Micah Owings

Projected Bullpen

RP: Mike Lincoln
RP: Bill Bray
RP: Arthur Rhodes
RP: David Weathers
SU: Jared Burton
CL - Francisco Cordero

2009 Projection

83-79

While I see improvement, the Reds will still struggle in some areas, but will end up having a pretty solid season, and will play spoiler for other NL teams down the stretch.

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