Re: Setting the Tone
At BP, their Playoff Odds Report still has the Cards at 49.0%, Brewers at 30.9%, Reds at 28.6%, Cubs at 9.9% and Pirates/Stros under 1.0%.
PECOTA was not friendly to the Reds, seeing regression across the board. A number of Reds took a big step forward in 2010. Your view of the likely trajectory for this team depends on the degree to which you view those gains as true steps forward in talent vs. mere "good seasons" above what can be expected long term. In particular, PECOTA is bearish on Stubbs, Cueto, Rolen and the catchers. It even has Jay Bruce being 2 wins less productive.
FWIW, Joe Sheehan has the Reds in the World Series this year as does another former BPer Rany Jazayerli.
Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.