Continuing the NL Central Preview series, I am taking a look at each of the NL Central clubs and looking at their additions and figuring out what I project they could do in 2014.
2013 Results: 90-72, 7 games back
Key Arrivals: 2B Skip Schumaker, C Brayan Pena
Key Departures: OF Shin-Soo Choo, RHP Bronson Arroyo, C Ryan Hanigan, SS Cesar Izturis
The Reds were a lucky team in 2013. They managed to stay relatively healthy. Four of their five starters made more than 30 starts. Six of their eight position players started over 150 games. After they lost the Wild Card Game to the Pirates, the Reds decided to fire manager Dusty Baker. In his place, they promoted pitching coach Bryan Price to his first major league management position.
The Reds offense was rolling in 2013 thanks to the .423 by Shin-Soo Choo leading off games for them. Joey Votto struggled though, only racking up 73 RBI despite playing in all 162 games. The Reds also had a very top heavy lineup with Votto, Choo, and Jay Bruce being the only three Reds starters to post an above average OPS+. Replacing Choo in the lineup this year will be base stealing threat Billy Hamilton. Hamilton may be a quality player, but those are big shoes to fill offensively in center field.
Their only offensive addition of note was Skip Schumaker, who joins the long list of former Cardinals players who have gone to Cincinnati during Walt Jocketty’s tenure as GM. A quality clubhouse guy, Schumaker should be a positive addition to the team, even if you don’t see it in the box score from him.
Their pitching staff stayed healthy in 2013 with Homer Bailey, Mat Latos, and Mike Leake posting their best seasons in Cincinnati. With Bronson Arroyo moving on, the Reds are depending on Tony Cingrani and Johnny Cueto, who has proved to be one of the NL’s best pitchers when healthy, to stay healthy and in the lineup.
The bullpen returning for 2014 is likely one of the most underrated bullpens in baseball. Aroldis Chapman, Alfredo Simon, JJ Hoover, Sam LeCure, Manny Parra are just some of the names of the quality pitchers in their bullpen.
Once again Walt has put together all the pieces. It will be up to the players and their new manager to put it all together.
2014 Verdict: It’s hard to see how the Reds can maintain the 90 wins after the loss of Choo. I predict 80-85 wins.