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The Sharks Break Down the NL Central

Cincinnati Reds

Mark’s Take

Scott’s Take

Lineup

1) Fred Lewis – He’s not going to play everyday, but for those in daily leagues he’s a mildly interesting fifth outfielder.

2) Brandon Phillips – Not the ideal location for his skill set.

3) Joey Votto

4) Jay Bruce – Breakout on the horizon.

5) Scott Rolen – In the games he actually plays, he bats here.

6) Drew Stubbs – Not buying his 2010.

7) Paul Janish – I want to say he’ll play everyday, but I still don’t trust Dusty Baker when it comes to veterans (Edgar Renteria) and young guys.

8) Ryan Hanigan

9) Pitcher

Lineup

1) Drew Stubbs

2) Brandon Phillips

3) Joey Votto

4) Scott Rolen

5) Jay Bruce

6) Jonny Gomes

7) Paul Janish

8) Ramon Hernandez

9) Pitcher

Very strong lineup here obviously. I’d like to see Brandon Phillips either higher or a bit lower in the lineup, but at this point it makes sense to have him in the two hole. The reigning MVP in the middle of the lineup is enough to carry this team, but if Jay Bruce continues to takes some strides forward, this lineup could be even better.

Rotation

1) Edinson Volquez – This year’s Jonathan Sanchez? Pitcher with elite tools and control problems finally puts it all together? It’s possible, but I’m not buying.

2) Johnny Cueto – As long as he’s in Cincinnati he’ll be limited in value because of his home run tendencies.

3) Bronson Arroyo – An innings eater and the only reliable arm in the lineup. That’s not a good thing.

4) Homer Bailey – He’s only 24. Post-hype sleeper right here.

5) Travis Wood – I look at his numbers and I want to trust him, but I just can’t.

There are more than enough red marks on Dusty Baker’s resume when it comes to handling pitchers for me to believe he’s finally learned, but after the Aaron Harang disaster perhaps he has? Some signs in 2010 that either he’s getting it, or the people in his ear are making the calls.

Rotation

1) Edinson Volquez

2) Johnny Cueto

3) Bronson Arroyo

4) Homer Bailey

5) Travis Wood

Outside Looking in – Mike Leake

I have a feeling that Homer Bailey really puts things together this year. He’s got quite an upside, and all indications (in my opinion) are that he’s going to take more steps forward. I almost had him as the No. 3 here, and firmly believe that he’ll be that by year’s end. Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto are great at the top, and Brnson Arroyo is still a strong middle of the rotation starter. Overall, this staff will keep them in a ton of games.

Bullpen

Closer – Francisco Cordero. The end is near.

L – Aroldis Chapman. I think he’s the closer by July.

R – Nick Masset

R – Jose Arredondo. This year’s Joaquin Benoit?

L – Matt Maloney

R – Jared Burton

R – Mike Leake. Probably a better bet for Triple-A but in a quest to keep his innings pitched limited I think long relief-sixth starter would be best.

Bullpen

Closer – Francisco Cordero

P – Aroldis Chapman

P – Nick Masset

P – Jose Arredondo

P – Bill Bray

P – Jared Burton

P – Dontrelle Willis

Very, very strong bullpen here, and likely to be a bit underrated. Aroldis Chapman is obviously the headliner, but under the radar here are Nick Masset and Jose Arrendondo. Masset, maybe not as much, but Arrendondo is a guy that hasn’t really been relevant since 2008, where he was fantastic. Dusty Baker’s excited about him this spring, which means he’ll likely get a lot of work. Dontrelle Willis gets one more shot here.

Most overrated player

Drew Stubbs. Look at his minor league numbers, then look at his first year in the majors. He doesn’t pass the smell test to me. I think he’s a fourth outfielder.

Most underrated player

Jay Bruce. His 2009 was a mess but he began to fix his problems in 2010. This is the year he pieces it all together.

5 Questions

1) Will an ace emerge? I wouldn’t bet on it. Given the health problems in Milwaukee it may not be enough to cost them the division but October’s going to be an issue.

2) Outside of Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto there are a lot of questions to be answered about this team, so how many will be answered favorably? I’m betting enough to win the division. What’s amusing to me is the one I’m not with is the one most others are – Drew Stubbs being legit.

3) How does the farm look? In a word, loaded. Devin Mesoraco and Billy Hamilton are two key pieces this team are missing and they both could be ready by 2012. Yonder Alonso is in the process of seeing if he can transition to the outfield, and when that doesn’t work I expect him to get traded in a deal that nets the Reds a future at thir base because I don’t think Juan Francisco is it. There’s a lot of arms coming up too. Most have already had time in the majors, but as they mature their roles will increase.

4) What’s the deal with the bullpen?   Well, I feel more confident in a guy coming off Tommy John surgery than I do the current closer. Francisco Cordero is the last of the ‘what is Dusty thinking’ issues I see, so I wouldn’t put it past him to continue to trot Cordero out there, but I think the cliff has arrived. Aroldsis Chapman-Nick Masset-Jose Aredondo is a pretty lethal combo though.

5) Has Dusty Baker finally learned how to manage a baseball team? I’m going to be the last person to actually believe this, but I have to admit I’m beginning to be swayed. His past issues were not apparent last year.

What this team needs to win

Milwaukee to take too long to solve their problems and more than 50 percent of the kids with upside to live up to it.

Most overrated player

Truly tough for me to find one here, so I’m going with the old third baseman in Scott Rolen. I have strong feelings that Rolen takes a major step back this season.

Most underrated player

Brandon Phillips. I’m sure he’s likely to be on a lot of people’s overrated list, but I think Phillips is truly a huge upside guy. He’s one of very few players (especially at his position) that you can count on yearly to be 20 home run, 20 stolen base guys.

5 Questions

1) What are they going to do with Aroldis Chapman? Well, it seems pretty obvious to me this season. Chapman is destined for the bullpen. And that’s likely where he’s going to stay. I still think he possesses the stuff to be a long-term starter in this league, but at this point he’s a setup guy, and one of the best.

2) Which pitcher is Dusty Baker going to run into the ground this year? We haven’t seen it as much recently, but Aaron Harang is certainly the most recent victim. The new one? Yet to be seen, but it’ll certainly be one of the Top 2 guys.

3) Is this the year Jay Bruce puts it all together?   Very well could be. He’s long been touted a fantastic player, but until last year, he was a huge risk. He made huge strides last year, and I’m cautiously optimistic for a .280 average, 30-plus home run season making him huge value. Of course, there’s huge risk.

4) Who’s going to start at shortstop? It appears that the Reds are focused on giving the job to Paul Janish, even after bringing in Edgar Renteria for insurance. Good idea, as they are sacrificing offense for defense. They already have enough offense.

5) How about down on the farm? There’s quite a bit to like here. The Reds have done a nice job wrapping up their young talent already, and the players that are on the way fill the holes that they haven’t signed long term. Devin Mesoraco and Yasmani Grandal are both first-round catcher prospects, and both appear to be on the path to major league success. Billy Hamilton will be a nice addition in the middle of the infield, and then there is Yonder Alonso.   Alonso has great hitting ability, but the unfortunate issue of being behind a young MVP.

What this team needs to win

Dusty Baker not to ruin his pitching staff, and a nice contribution again from Drew Stubbs. They’ll be fighting for the wild card, and for this division.

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