Saturday, March 11, 2017

2017 Pre-Season Profile: Cincinnati Reds

It's that time of year again!  Time to look at the upcoming baseball season.  This year, as I go through each team and their outlook for this season, I am going through by my own pre-season power rankings.  We start with the end with one of the few teams that know they have no shot entering this season: the Cincinnati Reds.

My 2016 Predictions
4th in NL Central
Manager Bryan Price will be fired before the All Star Break.

2016 Results
68-94, 5th in NL Central
Somehow, I gave the Reds too much credit last season.  I knew they weren't going to be good.  I had no idea just how bad they would be.  They were stuck in a weird spot of trying to rebuild while holding onto some franchise favorite veterans.  Finishing in the bottom 5 of the entire league, it's a miracle my Fearless Prediction was wrong!

2017 Additions / Subtractions
At the 2015 Trade Deadline, the Reds finally started the slow rebuild process when they traded Johnny Cueto to the Royals.  Then, in the 2016 offseason, they traded Todd Frazier to the White Sox.  They continued the process at the 2016 Trade Deadline when they traded Jay Bruce to the Mets.  This offseason kept the slow dismantling moving by trading Brandon Phillips to the Braves.  Outside of this and additions of veteran pitchers Scott Feldman and Drew Storen, the Reds were pretty quiet as they allow their young players (Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, Eugenio Suarez, Jose Mazara) try to establish themselves.

Most Important Hitter
Joey Votto
Last year, I said the Reds' Most Important Hitter was Jay Bruce, not because of what he would contribute to the team, but because of what he would get the team in the trade market.  Joey Votto, one of the only members of the old guard left, could be serving a similar purpose in 2017.  First off, Votto is one of the best hitters in baseball, a fact that has been true for all the 2010's.  He is the Reds best player, which is why he is still around.  The Reds need to make a decision on what they want to do with Votto.  Do they keep him to mentor their young crop of hitters, possibly dooming him to play for mediocre teams for the rest of his career?  Or do they trade him and his big contract to continue to add to their young talent base?  This question will likely be answered in 2017.  If they still have him at the end of the season, he is staying put.  If they don't, he will bring a healthy batch of prospects.

Most Important Pitcher
Brandon Finnegan
If the Reds want to win anytime soon, some of their young talent needs to start emerging.  Brandon Finnegan was the centerpiece in the package the Reds got back from the Royals for Johnny Cueto in 2015.  In 2016, Finnegan had an average season in his first full year in the big leagues.  Now, it is time for him to take a step forward and emerge as a possible ace moving forward.  If he does that, the Reds might not be as terrible as you think.

Player to Watch
Amir Garrett
A rebuilding team like this is usually a revolving door of rookies throughout the season.  One of the more intriguing prospects bound to make his debut this year is left-handed flamethrower Amir Garrett.  This 24 year old is still a little rough around the edges, but he has the potential of being a front-line starter for years to come.

2017 Prediction
5th in NL Central
Being at the bottom of my Pre-Season Power Rankings, this prediction is fairly anticlimactic.  The Reds have some potential, with guys like Duvall and Schebler flashing some greatness last year.  However, they still have such a long way to go, mainly because they refuse to fully commit to the rebuild.  Why are guys like Votto, Zack Cozart, and Devin Mesoraco still on the roster?  There is nothing exciting about a team that is going nowhere.  That's where the Reds are.  Either sell the farm and rebuild or reload and try to win with what you have.  Being caught in the middle never works.

Fearless Prediction
Zack Cozart will be traded before the All Star Break.
I really thought about going with the same prediction as last year, but I thought that might be too obvious.  Of all the veterans still on the roster, Zack Cozart seems to be the logical next choice to be traded.  Jose Peraza, slated to be the starting 2nd baseman, is the shortstop of the future.  He can't move over till Cozart is gone though.  Look for a team that has a key injury to an infielder to make a move for Cozart, who still has something left to prove in this league.

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