2010 Cincinnati Reds Preview

Aaron Harang, RHP
Bronson Arroyo, RHP
Johnny Cueto, RHP
Homer Bailey, RHP
Micah Owings, RHP

Closers and Setup
Francisco Cordero, RHP
Nick Masset, RHP

Starting Lineup
Drew Stubbs, CF
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Joey Votto, 1B
Brandon Phillips, 2B
Scott Rolen, 3B
Jay Bruce, RF
Chris Dickerson, LF
Ramon Hernandez, C

Player in Decline

After pitching 210-plus innings from 2005-2007, Aaron Harang has yet to pitch more than 185 frames. His strikeouts have also declined, and his walks have risen. Not a recipe for success. This former fantasy stud is no longer worth your time.

Player on the Rise

In 42 big league games, Drew Stubbs has stolen 10 bases. Stubbs was a stealing machine in the upper minors, and with playing time on his side he should be able to at least double his 2009 mark. Just keep in mind that he’ll pile up the strikeouts, which will also bring down his batting average.

Top 5 Fantasy Players
Brandon Phillips – Elite
Joey Votto – Elite
Francisco Cordero – Average
Jay Bruce – Average
Johnny Cueto – Average

Top 10 Prospects
1. Yonder Alonso, 1B
2. Aroldis Chapman, LHP
3. Mike Leake, RHP
4. Todd Frazier, OF
5. Chris Heisey, OF
6. Brad Boxberger, RHP
7. Travis Wood, LHP
8. Zack Cozart, SS
9. Juan Francisco, 3B
10. Matt Maloney, LHP

Overall Team Outlook: Early in the offseason, the Reds organization was rumored to be cutting budget; after moving no one, though, it added to the payroll by signing Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman and veteran shortstop Orlando Cabrera. The team is looking to compete this year and beyond, and could make some noise in the NL Central if the pitching staff can improve and stay healthy.

The Starting Rotation: The Reds’ rotation will likely be its downfall at the start of the season, but could improve towards the second half. Aaron Harang is back for a seventh season in Cincy, but isn’t as good as he once was. A diminished ground-ball rate has killed him in recent seasons, and will need to improve if he wants to succeed. Bronson Arroyo will be looking to improve his strikeout rate and become a 2 WAR pitcher again in 2010. It seems like yesterday that Johnny Cueto was being called up to the big leagues, but this will be his third season in The Show. Like Arroyo, Cueto will be working on bringing his strikeout rate back to its past levels. Former No. 1 prospect Homer Bailey will be given another shot at the rotation, as will Micah Owings. Reinforcements could arrive after the All-Star break if the expected call-up of Aroldis Chapman actually happens. Also, former ace Edinson Volquez is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, but is a long shot to make enough starts to be valuable.

The Bullpen: Closer Francisco Cordero posted his fifth career 30-plus save season in 2009 and is back once again to lock down the ninth innings. In 2009, Cordero’s strikeout rate dropped below a batter per inning for the first time since 2002. Veteran Arthur Rhodes will be the lefty set-up man, and righty Nick Masset will handle the rest of the eighth-inning duties.

The Starting Lineup: First baseman Joey Votto will continue to anchor the Reds lineup and will be counted on to drive in runs. Votto’s .418 wOBA was fourth-best in the Majors last season. Brandon Phillips will also be back to spark the offense, in the batter’s box and on the base paths. After coming to the plate less than 400 times last year, Jay Bruce will try to turn in a full 2010 in right field. Bruce has an insane amount of power and will likely mash at least 20 homers again in 2010. Acquired late last season, Scott Rolen will be the Reds’ everyday man at third base and will be expected to play great defense and knock in base runners at the plate. Rolen is nearing his last lap, but he may have a good year or two left in him.

Chris Dickerson will attempt to playleft field, and his blazing speed will always make him an interesting and fun player to watch and root for, as well as have in your lineup. Veteran Orlando Cabrera will plug the hole at short for a year, with 2010 being his first season in the NL since he was traded to the Red Sox in 2004. After a decent rookie campaign, Drew Stubbs will get a shot as the full-time center fielder in 2010 and should make the best of it. Behind the plate, veteran Ramon Hernandez will look to turn in another unspectacular, yet solid, year.

The Bench: Paul Janish was looking forward to being the starting shortstop, but he will now be relegated to bench duty. Janish plays good “D,” but his bat has been far below replacement level to this point. Speedster Willy Taveras will be back-up in the outfield, and will likely be used as a pinch runner. Outfielder Wlad Balentien, catcher Ryan Hanigan, and utility man Drew Sutton will complete the crew on the pine.

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Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.

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