Thursday, February 19, 2009

Can the Reds finish above .500? Part 3.

So, here we are at part three. After covering the defense, of which was upgraded over the off season and the pitching, which looks to be pretty solid, today we will talk about the offense. Sadly this will not be as up beat or as promising.

After losing Griffey and Dunn last year one of the Reds major goals was to find a power hitting right handed bat. Unfortunately players like Pat Burrell were asking way too much money. Pat, who in my opinion, is only marginally better than Adam Dunn in the outfield and a downgrade offensively. Pat got 16 million over two years. That is pretty expensive considering that you could have probably signed Dunn for that much if that is what you wanted.

But kudos to the Reds for not overpaying or for settling on someone that they knew was really not an upgrade. but now since most right handed sluggers are off the market, or too expensive, or have no interest in playing in Cincinnati, how do you replace the power and run production that At least Dunn gave you?

Lets look at the pros and cons.

  1. Dunn is gone. You will see this in the cons section as well, what can I say? Dunn is a dilemma. Dunn was a horrible clutch hitter, was terrible with runners in scoring position, and was able to rack up 200 strikeouts in a season in his sleep. There was a joke for almost two years about him never being able to get a sacrifice fly. This is a guy that hit 40 plus home runs and only managed 100 RBI!? That means that almost 50% of his RBI came of solo home runs.
  2. Griffey is gone. What pitcher was scarred of this guy? Jamie Moyer? And that is only because he is one of a handful of pitchers old enough to remember Griffey in his prime. It is a disgrace that the Reds were forced to bat this guy third for the last three years because he refused to be dropped in the order. When I think of a number 3 hitter in a lineup I think Manny Ramirez, Hanley Ramirez, Chase Utley, those guys scare me and give Big Popi and Ryan Howard protection. I know the guy has hit 600 home runs, but almost 400 were in Seattle and he was only there 3 more years than he was in Cincinnati.
  3. Anything is an upgrade offensively over Corey Patterson. Here is his stat line from last year; .205 batting average, .238 On Base Percentage, 14/23 on stolen bases and produced only 46 runs. Of course it does help to get on base to steal and produce runs, which he was never able to do. Taveras has a .331 career on base percentage and if he can stay healthy I see 50 stolen bases and at least 80 runs.
  4. The potential of Phillips, Bruce, and Votto at the top of the lineup is HUGE!I will give you my potential lineup later, but I think these guys can do something special together at the top/heart of the order.
  5. Hernandez is an upgrade over Ross/Backo. No one is going to confuse Ramon with Johnny Bench, but he might be the best offensive catcher we have had here since Johnny.
  1. Dunn is gone. See I told you. Dunn had many faults and frustrations, but he was good for 100 runs, 40 home runs and 100 RBI, every year....literally. And despite the strikeouts he has a career .381 on base percentage, thanks to over 100 walks every year too. Such a strange case, has there ever been a more drastic I love this guy, I hate this guy stat wise? So how do you replace 100/40/100? The simple answer is you can't, at least not for a real pretty penny. He is a slugger in every sense of the word, and with the Reds transition to speed and defense he just didn't fit.
  2. Tarveras needs to return to 2007 form. The Reds have not had a true lead off hitter since Pete Rose? The lead off hitter is very important, someone to get on base, wreak havoc on the base paths, get in pitchers heads. This guy becomes even more important on teams that are lacking power and are hoping to manufacture more runs like the Reds are. I am not completely sold on Taveras being that guy.
  3. A lot of youth. There is no one to legitimately fear in this lineup right now other than Brandon Phillips. Will Votto and Bruce be great, maybe, will Taveras return to 2007 form, maybe, will Encarnacion remember how to play baseball, doubtful at 26. That is a lot of maybes for a team hoping to break up the playoff drought this year.
Potential lineup if I were manager:
  1. Willy Taveras
  2. Jay Bruce
  3. Brandon Phillips
  4. Joey Votto
  5. Edwin Encarnacion
  6. Ramon Hernandez
  7. Alex Gonzalez
  8. Chris Dickerson
  9. Aaron Harang
Ultimately I think the Reds youth and lack of a "big bat" will hurt the them. I actually have this dropping the Reds to an exactly .500 team and missing the playoffs again this year. While I think the Reds were smart long term for not over paying for a free agent, maybe it would have been the one piece to put them over the edge this year. Now, IF they are in the hunt after the all start break they will have to make a trade and sacrifice some of their depth or young talent to get something too expensive that they will only have for half a year.

Reds fans are sick of losing, perhaps management should have taken that into consideration. But maybe things are looking up? 81-81 this season with I am sure a lot of growing up for Bruce, Votto, Volquez and Cueto. Perhaps the Reds can get that couple pieces they need in the off season and 2010 can be the season of change we have all been waiting for?

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