Cincinnati Reds: Can This Team Handle New Expectations in 2011?

Michael HammonsCorrespondent IFebruary 3, 2011

CINCINNATI - SEPTEMBER 12:  (FILE PHOTO)  Joey Votto #19 of  the Cincinnati Reds stands at the plate during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ballpark on September 12, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.The Baseball Writers' Association of America announced that Votto won the 2010 National League Most Valuable Player award.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In the 2010 season, the Reds surpassed everyone's expectations, winning 91 games in not only posting their first winning season since 2000, but also making it to the postseason for the first time since 1995.

For the first time in years, we are being sold something legitimate heading into a season. For years, it was merely a desperate hope and promise of something that seemed so vague and far away, but it's a new bill of goods now, where merely achieving respectability will no longer do the trick.  

With money committed to the young talent, older vets brought in/retained and after what happened last year, this team is now expected to win.

Fan events such as Redsfest and the Reds Winter Caravan have drawn rabid interest, ticket sales are up, and I'd imagine Spring Training will draw numbers unlike any year in recent past.

The question is, can the Reds live up to the hype?  Can they handle being the "hunted" as opposed to being the "hunter?"

The St. Louis Cardinals are always a dangerous team, the Milwaukee Brewers put together a good offseason, and the Chicago Cubs added pieces.  They have the Reds circled on their calenders, and want their lunch money back that the Reds stole.

It is paramount that the Reds start off well.  In a market such as Cincinnati, where the revenue streams have limits, they need good attendance numbers.  These salaries have to be paid somehow.

The organization didn't make a huge splash this offseason, but beyond that, they did everything in their power to draw more paying customers, and when you pay attention to your market like the Reds did, through the aforementioned fans events, those efforts will go a long way.

Most important of all, they are a good team. Without talent on your squad, offseason PR moves to try and drum up interest is like putting perfume on a pig.

Though the 2010 season will always have a special place in the hearts of Reds fans, its time to start thinking about the encore act, as the curtain is soon to raise.