it probably depends on your point of view and therefore is just a personal opinion which team is better. So I don't know if any pre season in depth analysis will get someone convinced that either team is ahead of the other.
First base:In my opinion, Casey is not a better option at first base than a platoon of Simon and Craig Wilson. I would even give the advantage to the Pirates there, as Simon is a sure .300 hitter and Wilson has proven to possess good power. Casey's OBP has declined over the last four years to a rather meager .334 last season. That is right between the OBP from Randall (.320) and Wilson (.355). Equal
The Reds have an advantage at second base (Boone vs. Reese). That's pretty obvious. Reds
Third base: Brandon Larson against Aramis Ramirez. Nothing against Brandon, but I would take Ramirez over him. He is more likely to succeed his 34 homeruns, 112 RBI and .300 BA are just two years away. Pirates
Concerning shortstop it has to be seen what Larkin is still able to do and what Lopez can do. Comparing Wilson and Larkin results in a draw, in my opinion, especially if you consider that Larkin is a year older and Wilson still developing. Would I rather have Wilson than Lopez as a shortstop? No. But has Lopez shown anything that makes him a sure bet to be better than Jack Wilson? No as well. Equal
Left field is the home of the Bucs Brian Giles and regardless who plays this outfield corner for the Reds, it's highly unlikely that either Kearns or Dunn will surpass Giles performance in 2003. Pirates
Center Field means Junior vs. Lofton right now. As Lofton can give the Pirates a solid leadoff hitter, Griffey surpasses him in every aspect of the game (except speed). Reds
Right Field. Kearns vs. former Red Reggie Sanders. Sanders is still a solid player but a healthy Kearns will be more dangerous offensively. Reds
Nearly forgot the catching position: Kendall is overpaid for what he has shown during the last two seasons. Still he hits for a good average , walks more often than he strikes out and has the speed to steal 15+ bases. LaRue has a better arm, but won't call a better game ... so the Pirates have more strength at this position as well, especially considering that Craig Wilson can catch for them as a backup.
Bench: For the Reds that means Stinnett, Castro (or Guerrero (?) for the DL time), Pena, Taylor and Mateo. For the Pirates on the other hand Young, either Craig Wilson or Randall Simon, Mackowiack, Stairs, Nunez. Much better hitters and more HR power for the Buccos .... in my opinion a clear advantage for them. Pirates
Starting rotation: I think the Pirates are way better here than the Reds. Wells, Fogg, Benson, Suppan, D'Amico vs. Haynes, Dempster, Graves, Wilson, Anderson. On paper a no-contest for the Pirates.
Bullpen: Why should the Reds be better here, especially with the additions of Mercker and Manzanillo? The Pirates have a very good closer, the Reds not (yet). What has Sullivan's arm left in it? Beimel, Boehringer, ex-Red Reyes, Sauerbeck, Tavarez and Torres form a solid relief corp. Not great, neither bad. Because of Mike Williams and his 46 saves in 2002 I rate both bullpens to be about equal.
Last edited by Red Thunder; 03-26-2003 at 06:14 PM.