Monday, February 29, 2016

2016 Pre-Season Profile: Cincinnati Reds

The Cincinnati Reds finished 2015 in the cellar for the first time since 1983.  Will 2016 bring about a different result?

Last Season
My 2015 Prediction: 5th in NL Central
2015 Result: 64-98, 5th in NL Central
No one in 2015 had the loss column hit triple digits, however the Reds are one of several teams that sure came close.  The Reds got caught with an aging core and not enough talent ready to play to replenish the declining talent.  Even if they did, they had too much money committed to their roster that they couldn't really get rid of many of their problems.  Needless to say, their season end up as a disaster with few prospects to be better soon.

2016 Additions / Subtractions

Starting at the 2015 Trade Deadline, the Reds started unloading some of their better talent to get back prospects that could bolster their farm system.  Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake was traded last season, then the offseason saw Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman moving on.  Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce were in serious trade talk as well, but the deals fell through.  They have started to show that their strategy is a franchise reset.

Most Important Hitter
Jay Bruce
Jay Bruce is one of the best hitters the Reds have left, however there is a different reason he is their most important hitter this year.  Bruce is the best trade chip the Reds still have.  If the season heads south quick, which a lot of people expect it to, the question stops being if Bruce gets traded, and switches to when Bruce gets traded.  How well the Reds orchestrate a trade of Jay Bruce will help determine how good they will be in the future and how long it takes them to get there.

Most Important Pitcher
Homer Bailey
The Reds are pretty shaky all around their lineup.  One of the biggest question marks entering the season for them is how good Homer Bailey will be.  Bailey missed most of last season with Tommy John surgery.  He might be ready in time for the season to start.  If this doesn't happen, or he struggles when he comes back, look for Homer Bailey's season to become an audition for all teams looking to trade for an established starter at the Trade Deadline.

Player to Watch
Jesse Winker
A team like the Cincinnati Reds usually has a lot of opportunities to get their prospects time in the big leagues.  As they are attempting to build from the ground up, their top prospects will slowly but surely work their way in.  Jesse Winker is their top prospect right now.  This left-handed hitting outfielder could be a call-up if a Jay Bruce trade ever gets finalized.

2016 Prediction
4th in NL Central
It looks like the Reds have a little farther to fall before they can bounce back.  The only reason they are not in last place is because of a team in their division that is even worse off (mainly, because they don't have Joey Votto).  The Reds will be in the bottom five of the league, especially considering how good the top three in the division are.  Hopefully, it can start to turn around soon, but not in 2016.

Fearless Prediction
Manager Bryan Price will be fired before the All Star Break.
When you have a team like the Reds, it is hard to determine whether the poor play on the field is a result of the aging roster or a bad manager.  Either way, the manager ends up getting blamed at some point.  Bryan Price barely made it to 2016 after their terrible 2015.  Pitching coaches rarely make good managers, and I don't think Price is an exception to that rule.

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