What do you think of Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey and their chances to make an impact in 2008 for the Reds?
-- Casey J., Seattle, Wash.
Assuming that neither is traded in the offseason, both could have key roles. Bailey had mixed results after he debuted (4-2, 5.76 ERA in nine big league starts), but was often fighting a groin injury and missed much of the second half of the season. The 21-year-old has the inside track for the rotation's fourth spot right now, but isn't assured of that or any spot. He will have to compete for it. This will be a big developmental year for him to show he's Major League ready and able to stay.
As for Cueto, he could probably make the rotation of some organizations right now. But the Reds organization seems poised to stick to its mantra of not rushing prospects. Although he pitched at three levels last season (12-9, 3.07 ERA and 170 strikeouts combined), only four of his starts were at Triple-A. He'll be turning 22 in February and general manager Wayne Krivsky seems to want to give the right-hander more seasoning at Louisville.
Cueto will be in the big league camp as a non-roster invite. I'd like to see him be given every shot at the Reds rotation. He's shown he can work nearly 200 innings in the Minors and winter ball this year. If awarded the fifth spot, the team could control his starts and innings more and there would be less pressure. Despite being listed as 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, I've heard some people rate Cueto's stuff and ability as better than Bailey's. I think it'd be electric to have those two young arms at the end of the rotation behind Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo and Matt Belisle. Until there is another pitching acquisition via trade or free agency, the Reds are thin with starters on their roster.