Blogging the Offseason: Cincinnati Reds

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blogging the Offseason is a 30 team series in which I ask a blogging representative from each MLB team a series of ten questions about their desires and thoughts surrounding the offseason. Check out all of them here.

Today's NL team is the Cincinnati Reds and our guest is Slyde from the Reds Blog, Red Reporter.

1. The Reds roster contains almost no impending free agents and thus no extra salary coming off the books, do you think this hinders them from making moves this offseason or do you think the Reds will spend some cash?
Yes I think it hinders them. I don't expect the Reds to spend much money this off-season unless they trade one of their big contracts. Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, and Francisco Cordero are all set to make $12M+ next season. I don't know if trading any of those players is in the best interest of winning for 2010, but I'm fairly certain that they won't spend money if they can't deal one of those players.

2. What would you say is the absolute biggest need for the Reds to address in the offseason?
Offense. The Reds were in the bottom 3 in the NL in batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS+. They finished with just 673 runs on the season, only the 3rd time they've scored under 700 in the last 15 years. The big problem is the lack of focus on getting people on base. There is a lot of talk from management about doing the little things, but the Reds had the most sacrifice hits in the NL, hit into the 3rd fewest double plays, and were pretty good, though not great, at stealing bases and they still finished the year with their lowest offensive output in 12 years.
The spot on the field that needs the most offensive help is shortstop. The Reds were 2nd to last in the NL in OPS at the shortstop position. They were last in production from CF, but rookie Drew Stubbs looked much better than Willy Taveras in his short stint with the team last year. If the Reds can just keep from making the same mistake of playing Taveras in CF and leading him off everyday, they should see improvements offensively there by default. Perhaps the biggest determining factor in the improvement of the Reds offense next year will be Jay Bruce, who, if he can make some improvements at the plate and see some of his bad luck turn around, could turn in a monster year and give the Reds some dramatic improvement all on his own.

3. Any chance the Reds will talk to Dusty about how to protect Cueto and Volquez or will their arms fall completely off their bodies in 2010?
Well, Volquez is already out for most of the 2010 season after having Tommy John surgery last August. However, I think Baker's reputation in this area is a bit hyperbolic. There have been a couple instances where he has ridden pitchers a lot longer than I think most people were comfortable with, but in general I don't feel like he has really overworked either Cueto or Volquez. I think the bigger issue for both pitchers is that they didn't take much time off during the off-season last year as both pitched in the Dominican Winter League and in the World Baseball Classic. Obviously that won't be an issue for Volquez this year and it looks like the Reds are going to keep Cueto from pitching in the DWL. Hopefully that will help the fatigue issues that Cueto seemed to run into last season.

4. One would guess that your opening day rotation will be Volquez, Cueto, Harang, Arroy and Bailey. Will there be any shakeup or is that the 5?
Volquez obviously won't be in the rotation. He's not expected back until July or August at the earliest, if he even pitches in the 2010 season. I think Cueto, Harang, Arroyo, and Bailey are good bets to be the top 4 next year, unless the Reds trade either Harang or Arroyo. The fifth spot will likely be filled by an internal option such as Micah Owings or Matt Maloney or a minor leauger like Travis Wood or Matt Klinker. It'll come down to who has the best Spring Training, most likely.

5. Ramon Hernandez injury really hurt the offense this season. Will his option be picked up or will the Red look elsewhere?
I don't really feel like Hernandez's injury hurt the team all that much. Ryan Hanigan had a better year both offensively and defensively, and the Reds played much better overall while Hernandez was on the DL (not that that was his fault). The Reds recently signed Hernandez to a $3 million deal for one year with a vesting option for $3.5 million if he plays in 120 games in 2010. I think that's a reasonable deal, and if Dusty can keep a balance in playing time at catcher, the Reds should do alright there with a league average pair.

6. Jonny Gomes hit a home run once every 14 at bats. A) Where did that come from? B) Will he be on the roster next season?
Some of it is just small sample size fluctuation - his career average is 1 HR every 18 AB - and some of it is playing in a park more adept at giving up home runs (11 of his 20 HR were at home, in 12 fewer plate appearances). I'm not sure if the Reds will bring him back next year. He is still arbitration eligible, so it is completely their call as to whether or not he comes back. What I'm not sure of is if they are willing to spend the $3 million or so that it will probably cost them in arbitration to keep him around. If I had to guess right now, I'd say yes since it is likely the cheapest way for them to add a right-handed power bat to their lineup, something they really need.

7. You've gassed your owner and have convinced him to spend like the Yankees, which three free agents do you sign?
If I don't have to worry about money, I'd take Matt Holliday, Orlando Hudson (and move Brandon Phillips to SS), and John Lackey.

8. Which Red prospect yet to find himself in a game are you most looking forward to in 2010?
I'd probably say Chris Heisey, who has made tremendous strides over the last year. If he can manage to be anywhere near his career minor league line of .298/.369/.460, he can play left-field for the Reds right now, especially since his power appears to be developing (he hit 35 doubles and 22 HR last season in AA and AAA). That's probably unrealistic out of the gate, but he's been a big surprise over the last couple of years, mainly because he was a 17th round draft pick. He's probably the most ready prospect the Reds have, and if the Reds decide to trade Jonny Gomes, I wouldn't be surprised to see Heisey starting in LF next year.

9. I'm giving you the option to cut players without any salary repercussions, which Reds do you part way with?
Willy Taveras, without a doubt. He's a waste of everything. I'd consider dropping Francisco Cordero too, but I'd really have to think about it. Cordero is valuable to the Reds, but he's just not worth the $24 million that he is still owed and I think the Reds could do much better with that money.

10. Final Question, you've got a crystal ball, the Cincinnati Reds will make the playofs in ________.
2011. And when you ask me in 2011, I'll say 2013. Such is the life of a Reds fan.

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