As we head into the exhibition season in a few days, I have an urge to be positive following a frustrating winter. 2009 may not be "the year" with continued problems up the middle in Cincinnati, but "the lost decade" will be coming to an end and there is a lot of reason to think the next decade will bring brighter days. Below is my list of 25 potential silver linings that will make 2009 an interesting year no matter how the record may wind up. Its the longest of shots that all of these things will come true, but if 60% or so do, then 2010 and beyond could shape up as a time of resurgence for Reds' baseball. The list is below, add some of your own and feel free to point out which you think are most and least likely of the items on the list:
1 Jay Bruce becomes a monster and a yearly candidate for MVP and other awards.
2 Joey Votto builds on his 2008 and becomes a ..285/.370/.500 guy.
3 Edwin Encarnacion takes the next step and with Bruce and Votto forms a very solid middle of the order.
4 Micah Owings establishes himself as a solid starting pitcher.
5 Homer Bailey spends the year at AAA, dominates and re-establishes himself as a hot property.
6 Nick Masset becomes a power arm for the late innings.
7 Daryl Thompson moves to the Pen and makes Jared Burton like progress toward an 8th inning role for 2010
8 Yonder Alonso destroys AA pitching and keeps it going in AAA and forces a move of Votto to LF.
9 Chris Dickerson establishes himself as a solid platoon player with plus defense, plus speed and .270/.360/.440 numbers against RHP (He'll stink against Lefties though)
10 Todd Frazier becomes a multi-position offensive force as he moves through the minors to provide the Reds a "Mark De Rosa type" player for the bench/line-up
11 Aaron Harang regains his status as one of the top 10 Starters in the NL.
12 Johnny Cueto makes a leap forward.
13 Edinson Voquez regresses a bit but still is a solid starter with a high 3's/Low 4's ERA that can dominate any game.
14 Bill Bray becomes a solid bullpen lefty
15 Kyle Lotzkar stays healthy and effective for a full season in A Ball and gains national attention as a prospect.
16 Danny Dorn continues to hit in AAA and the Reds finally notice.
17 Zach Cozart has a decent offensive year in A+ raising his prospect status.
18 Jordan Smith emerges as an ace in AA.
19 Bronson Arroyo provides another 200 innings of league average pitching and is in demand at the deadline.
20 Josh Roenicke continues to progress as a late inning relief option
21 Robert Manuel follows up his great AA season with a similar year in AAA
22 David Weathers provides more of the same and becomes a very marketable commodity as the Reds young pen arms push for a roster spot.
23 Carlos Fisher does well in AAA and becomes an option as a multi-inning reliever.
24 Dallas Buck steps forward with another year removed from surgery and with Homer, Smith and Lotzkar provides a 4 year run of guys who will be ready to assume a role in the rotation.
25 Neftali Soto has a big year in High A ball and leaps to the top of the Reds prospect list