The Reds are getting no love from Sports Illustrated in their preseason predictions. The Reds are predicted to finish dead last in the NL Central and are ranked 28th in Major League Baseball. The Reds rank ahead of only the Royals and Marlins.

It’s easy to see why their article assessment has us rated so low. Most of the article focuses on Ryan Freel and Eric Milton.

Freel, 30, emerged as one of the game’s better leadoff hitters in 2005, finishing with a .371 on-base percentage and 36 stolen bases from the one hole. He possesses all the attributes of a thinking leadoff man: He is willing to work the count, and he plays to his strength (speed) while minimizing his weakness (limited pop), hitting twice as many ground balls as fly balls. The 5’10”, 180-pound Freel has a prototypical small man’s game, regularly ripping his uniform on headfirst slides and sprawling catches. His aggressive style sent him to the disabled list twice last season.

But alas, we’ll see Tony Womack on Opening Day.

The Reds appear destined to play dozens of 10-9 games, and they won’t be competitive until they seriously upgrade their staff. Freel, who signed a two-year, $3 million extension in December, is a fine building block, a scrappy, multipurpose piece and a face for the franchise. But the talent gap between Cincinnati and the class of the NL Central is too great to bridge on hustle alone.

I agree about the pitching staff. I don’t think we’ve “seriously” upgraded our staff much from last year, but I feel we have made some improvements. I like Ryan Freel as much as anyone, but this article and assessment only mentions Dunn once, in one measly sentence (only stating that he’ll play LF now due to WMP’s departure), and never mentions Griffey, Kearns, nor Lopez. I think our offense is still a potential #1 in the NL. No wonder SI predicts the Reds so low. It’s as though Freel and Milton are it!

Of course it is still the preseason and I’m always optimistic at this time of year. Ask how I feel come July!

10 Responses

  1. Brian B.

    Publications like SI wouldn’t dare project anything different than how the divisions ended the previous season. Go out on a limb guys!

  2. Blue

    Wow. That is absolutely mindless. I hope they don’t pay that writer a whole lot.

  3. Brian B.

    No, I don’t remember the SI cover in 1987.

    I agree with your philosophy when it comes to making news for themselves, but not for making division projections.

  4. Mark T

    I guess I’ve got to go with SI here – ever since they called the Chicago/Houston world series last year, I’ve had great respect for them.

  5. Chris in Venice

    ’87 Indians … Mel Hall, Cory Snyder and Joe Carter.

    SI Jinx Alive and Well!

  6. Ken

    SI’s projected division winners this year: Yankees, Sox, A’s, Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers. Angels and Mets as the WC. They’re not dumb picks, but SI is definitely not going out on a limb.

    I have to take issue with their analysis of Pittsburgh. The Reds finished six games ahead of them last year, but because the Bucs added crafty vets like Casey, Randa, and Burnitz, they’re suppossed to leapfrog a team with the NL’s best offense and a (moderately) improved pitching staff? I don’t buy it.

  7. Tom

    Who cares what SI and the New York media say? It’s the same old shtick. They’re so obsessed by the Yankees-Red Sox-Mets that they find it hard to admit the Reds exist. Lets get the season going; there could be some surprises.

  8. al

    valentin probably won’t have as good of a year, but i think larue will probably continue to improve a little. EdE and randa is probably a wash, and i don’t think you can assume that people are going to get hurt, and griffey and kearns both look great so that’s probably an improvement since kearns struggled so badly early last year.

    Even if womack starts at the beginning of the year, he probably can’t be as bad as jiminez was, so we haven’t lost anything there (if he stinks freel will start within a month).

    hatteberg is probably a small step down from casey, so the offense may not be everything that it was, but Dunn also had a down year (for him) and could easily make up the difference.

    the pen may be a little too old, but hammond certainly seems alright, and no one is going to be anywhere near as bad as graves or some of the other sucks they ran out there.

    so the rotation is better, the pen is better, and the offense is maybe a little worse, but maybe not. I don’t think that the reds are a powerhouse yet, but i think they can be over .500, and that’s just about where i project most of the nl central, which i think is going to be a tight division.

    the cardinals are better than the rest, and the pirates are worse than the rest, but i think the other 4 teams will all be right around each other.

  9. Glenn

    That’s why these pre-season write ups or worthless. The Reds didn’t finish last, last year and I don’t see how anyone can honestly say that they haven’t improved the squad.
    Pitching will still be a problem, but the team has made moves that should improve the staff. The lineup can produce runs. Thier power is second to none in the division. What’s up with That!