Pessimeist versus Optimist
The key points, why the Reds won't be competive:
1) No solid starting pitching (2 starters even have yet to be named - Haynes was luckier but not better than in 2001 when he lost 17 games)
Haynes is consistent and good enough to be a third starter on any team. Yes he was locky lasdt year but he earned 12 or 13 of those wins. He was unlucky in Milwaukee. 12-15 wins
Graves is not a gamble imo, he is a good pitcher and will be a good starter. The question is not will he be any good but how good will he be? 12-20 wins
Dempster - Began showing what he was capable of in his last couple starts. As with Graves the question is just good or dominant? 14-20 wins
Acevedo - Ready to go, pitched extremely well in AAA and winter, this is the year Juan emerges as a solid ML starter. 12-15 wins
Chen, Reitsma - Lefty or righty, I'm comfortable with either for the 5th starter. Etherton, Harnisch, Basham, Prokopec, Rijo, Reith = plenty of fodder to choose from if we need replacements. Some are raw, some old, some hurt. If we get into this bunch the variables are wild but some are tantalizing - Basham for instance, or Moseley could come up and beat the odds by succeeding. Prokopec could come back strong or Etherton show complete recovery. A lot more risk but some upside here, too.
Overall, our starters are better than we've seen in a long while.
2) Only one durable starter (Dempster)
Haynes can eat a lot of innings, too. Graves pitches with an economy that suggests he'll be able to eat a lot of innings without major problems.
3) Average bullpen
??? As deep as any team's, good left-right balance, plenty of depth, top pitchers like White, Reidling and Willy
4) Unproven closer (Williamson)
How is he unproven? I'm with TRF, I consider him a proven commodity
5) Best relief pitcher (White) likely to get traded to shed payroll
Heredia and Mercker will alleviate the loss though I agree it would be better if we could keep him
6) Average overall defense
As long as its average we'll be okay. LaRue will be better, imo, and a healthy Junior gives us top D in center.
7) Little team speed
Not true. Average to batter than average speed overall. We do need coaching on baserunning but hopefully that is going to be addressed in ST. Dunn and Kearns should be better, certainly.
8) No true leadoff hitter
Actually, this is key on Lark. If he is healthy, there is no problem - I like him as leadoff.
9) Junior's production & health remain questionable
Yep. And until he plays the whole season and has a massive year people will question him. You know what? When it comes to Junior I am asking no questions. I believe. He'll have a tremedous year. I know if you're handicapping you have to look at this with a jaundiced eye but I'm not handicapping. I'm believing.
10) Offensive production from catchers have to improve
It will. LaRue will be better. I like Miller but I think Jason has a solid year at the plate and behind it.
11) Team carries & pays two useless players: Castro & Stinnett
Not useless. Not entirely. Well, not hardly. Maybe? Okay - vastly overpaid. Maybe we can hire Tonya Harding to break their legs with a ballbat and put both on the DL. I'm kidding. I think.
Add to all this that Dunn will have a breakout year, finally reaching 40+ homers. He'll never have a high average but Kearns will. Austin hits .330 with 25 homers. Casey comes back and hits well. We trade him and White at the deadline for a stud pitcher.
Basham comes up in September and pitches 3 terrific games, Moseley dominates AA, Howington and Aramboles regain top prospect status. Rose is reinstated. GAB is full every day.
Reds win it all in a shocker. Case Closed.