There’s not too much to complain about when it comes to the Cincinnati Reds. They always seem to put a competitive team on the field. Last season, was a down year. They finished 76-86 placing them in 4th in the NL Central. After last season, Homer Bailey’s six-year, $105 million dollar contract definitely looks like a horrible signing. For his sake, he did battle a groin strain during Spring Training and tore a forearm tendon forcing him to miss the rest of the season. Horrible seasons from Joey Votto and Jay Bruce added to this miserable season. If they can get it together and Devin Mesoraco can stay concussion-free, the Reds should be able to contend for the NL Central and a Wild Card Spot. The path will be tough with teams such as the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates looking to get back to where they were in seasons past, not to mention the emergence of the young Chicago Cubs.
Let’s not forget, they have studs that can anchor a fantasy team. Johnny Cueto is playing for a contract and will definitely continue to dominate hitters. Aroldis Chapman has been nothing short of exceptional since he arrived in 2010. We are talking about a guy that consistently gets 35+ saves as well as 100+ strikeouts. Billy Hamilton is a premier base stealer and swiped 56 bags in his first full season. I would let someone else reach for him, but you can surely lockdown steals having him on your fantasy roster. Todd Frazier is about as safe as it gets from a fantasy standpoint. Then, there’s Mesoraco. He’s cemented himself as a top-5 fantasy catcher and is everything you could want in an offensive catcher. Votto and Bruce need to rebound in order for this club to compete. There’s no reason they can’t hit 25+ homers apiece and drive in close to 90 runs.
|1. Billy Hamilton – CF||.250/5/45 He will steal 60 bases|
|2. Brandon Phillips – 2B||.265/15/65+ He’s on the decline|
|3. Todd Frazier – 3B||.260-.270/25/80|
|4. Jay Bruce – RF||.245/25/85|
|5. Joey Votto – 1B||.290/25/75-90 Earn your money!|
|6. Devin Mesoraco – C||.270/25/80|
|7. Marlon Byrd – LF||.260/20/70-75 Could move up in the order|
|8. Zack Cosart – SS||.235/5-10/40-45 He’s not the answer at SS|
Looking at their projected lineup, they have the power. The question remains if Bruce and Votto can rebound. Votto absolutely needs to stay healthy. He signed a 10-year, $225 million deal in 2012. I’m sorry but that is way too much money for a guy that takes walks instead of driving in runs. Cincinnati wants him to be their premier cleanup hitter and he just isn’t the guy. I would’ve easily looked to flip him in a trade rather than pay a guy $22MM to take walks and play in an average of 132 games since 2008 (his first full season). Drive the ball in, son! Bruce is your typical power hitter. He’s going to hit the bombs while striking out often and ending at a .250 average. I can live with that as long as he rebounds from his dismal 2014 where he failed to reach the 20+ homerun club for the first time in his career. I can assure everyone Bruce is just as disappointed as his fantasy owners were. He won’t let this happen again. Now, he gets that beautiful chip on his shoulder.
Top Prospect to Make an Impact First:
Jesse Winker: If Marlon Byrd, 37, finally falls under Father Time’s spell, I believe Winker will get his call. He’s proved to be a tough out and is another bat from the left-side of the plate. He doesn’t have a strong arm which won’t be a factor playing in left. The potential is there for 15-20 home runs. If he does indeed reach the majors before September, he is the perfect guy to bat in the two-hole after Billy Hamilton. These guys can both get on base and leave ducks on the pond for the big boys to drive in.
|1. Johnny Cueto||2.60/16 W/200+ K He may be traded|
|2. Homer Bailey||3.50/ 13-15 W/160-165 K Another Earn Your $$!|
|3. Mike Leake||3.70/10-12 W/150 K At least, he can hit|
|4. Tony Cingrani||3.65/7-12 W/135-140 K|
|5. Anthony DeSclafani||3.90/7-10 W/145 K|
Aside from Cueto, the Reds have a mediocre staff. It’s a shame they can’t get a number two starter to ensure success after Cueto. Bailey’s contract reminds me of Jay Cutler’s. The potential is there, but the guy just isn’t it. He’s only topped 10 wins twice in his eight seasons and he’s about to turn 29. They could’ve spent their money more wisely. Their number three, four and five guys rub me the wrong way. Leake is a decent middle-of-the-rotation guy, and at least he can hit. Cingrani was a top prospect, but he’s been injury plagued. It remains to be seen with DeSclafani. He made his debut last season in Miami, and only pitched in 13 games starting five. If Cueto doesn’t re-sign, they need prospects in return. I can see a contender giving at least one top-level pitching prospect in return.
Top Prospect to Make an Impact First:
Robert Stephenson: He possesses the rocket arm with a power curve. Walks have been his Achilles heel. If Stephenson can get his mechanics set, there’s no reason he doesn’t get his call this season. I can see the Reds needing a pick-me-up from somewhere. If Chapman is dealt, Stephenson has the ability to step right in and become a dynamite closer.
I really can’t say much about their bullpen. There are clubs that have worse bullpens than the Reds, but they do have Aroldis Chapman. He’s arguably the best closer in baseball and can continue that trend for the next decade. Again, if the Reds struggle with their staff, Robert Stephenson is the guy I’d like to see called up first. He can be a dynamite addition if the Reds keep Chapman.
After analyzing the Reds, they have the bats to compete. They have a true number one starter and closer, but the rest of their pitching staff remains to be seen. There have been many rumors of Cueto and Chapman being moved. If this does happen, they absolutely need pitching prospects in return.
|Fantasy Targets||Keep An Eye On|
|Johnny Cueto||Homer Bailey|
|Aroldis Chapman||Mike Leake|
|Billy Hamilton||Tony Cingrani|
|Joey Votto||Marlon Byrd|
|Jay Bruce||Jesse Winker|
|Todd Frazier||Robert Stephenson|
Season Projection: 84-78 (3rd in NL Central)
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Major League Fantasy Sports Radio Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday March 22nd from 7pm-9pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio network. We will be taking live callers at 646.915.8596. This week we will be discussing Starting Pitchers.
Bryan Luhrs the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports, Kyle Amore, and Lou Landers will be joining us this week whom are all writers with MLFS. Be sure to check out Bryan’s N.L. West articles every Saturday, Kyle’s N.L. Central articles every Tuesday, and Lou’s A.L. Central articles every Wednesday.