Over at The Baseball Analysts — an excellent blog, by the way — Rich and Bryan have an NL Central preview. Contributing to the preview is our friend JD, from Red Reporter:

J.D.: I think the Reds are going to need a great deal of luck, but I’ve seen things in the past year that do give me some hope. Dan O’Brien didn’t draft the way I’d like, and he made some (very) questionable free agent moves, but he’s still an improvement over Jim Bowden.

Rich: I think the Reds are the most fun-to-follow sub-.500 team in baseball. They have a collection of big-name talent that ranks among the game’s best-known players (in the case of Ken Griffey Jr.) or most promising youngsters (Adam Dunn, Wily Mo Pena, Austin Kearns). If Junior and the Outfielders — sounds like a ’60s group out of Motown — can stay healthy, it stands to reason that the Reds are going to put up a lot of runs this year.

J.D.: Dan O’Brien seems conservative to a fault, so I think he’s getting off on having insurance in case one of the outfielders (or Sean Casey) is injured. However, if the Reds make it to the trade deadline relatively intact, and in striking distance then I think Pena’s going to be dealt. I don’t see Austin Kearns going anywhere because if he’s healthy then he’ll put up monster numbers. Everyone forgets how good he was in 2003 before Ray King sat on his shoulder, but he was among the league leaders in quite a few offensive categories at that point (April: .303/.431/.640; May: .287/.368/.455). I expect him to exceed virtually everyone’s expectations this year because I don’t think he’s as fragile as people are making him out to be. His injuries have been completely of the fluky variety, not the chronic.

Rich: I agree with you, J.D. I think Kearns is apt to surprise a lot of folks this year, but I won’t be among them.

Neither will I.