Another brutal season for the Reds has ended and left us with nothing again but hope for next season. There are, however, legitimate reasons for hope for next season. We actually now have in place the makings of a good pitching staff and a core of talented bats.

There still remain areas for significant improvement that will have to be addressed for the Reds if they hope to put a winning team on the field for next season. Below is a position-by-position breakdown of the Reds to help us identify their needs for next season and then a list of the Reds free agents and arbitration eligible players who they will have to make decisions on this winter.

Hitting

RK Pos   GP   AB   R    H  2B 3B  HR   TB RBI   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS 
12 Reds 161 5435 700 1346 268 24 185 2217 673 .248 .321 .408 .729 
   NL   161 5505 730 1435 294 30 162 2275 697 .261 .331 .413 .744 

Our offense ranked 12 out of 16 in the NL and we dumped our best hitter two-thirds of the way into the season. We will definitely have to add some offense to be successful next season.

Catcher

RK Pos   GP  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR  TB RBI   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS 
11 C    162 538 56 126 23  2 12 189  57 .234 .330 .351 .681 
   NL   162 579 63 148 31  1 15 224  76 .254 .327 .385 .712 

Name         AB  OPS
Bako        299 .626
Ross        134 .747
Valentin    129 .737

Reds catchers were 11th out of 16 offensively last season. Bako and Valentin are free agents and I think I’d let them both go. Bako should never have been here to start with. I’m done with the three catcher situation; it’s left the roster tight on numerous occasions already, so I’d let Valentin go and find a new LH PH. Hanigan will be a fine backup. The Reds should have a starting catcher on their shopping list this off season. I’d make calls on Shoppach, Clement, and Saltalamacchia.

First Base

RK Pos   GP  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR  TB RBI   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS 
 5 1B   162 606 75 177 41  3 25 299  91 .292 .366 .493 .859 
   NL   162 614 88 170 37  2 28 294 103 .276 .358 .479 .837 

Name         AB  OPS
Votto       526 .874

Votto is a very good player. I’ve heard thoughts of picking up a 1B and moving him to LF. I’d leave him at 1B and pick up a LF for the sake of strengthening the defense.

Second Base

RK Pos   GP  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR  TB RBI   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS 
10 2B   162 645 89 165 26  7 21 268  84 .256 .305 .416 .720 
   NL   162 633 90 171 35  4 15 259  74 .271 .338 .409 .747 

Name         AB  OPS
Phillips    559 .754

I’ve always thought Phillips bat was overrated and this season, he was just above average for an NL 2B. He’ll be grossly overpaid in 2011 at $11M. I’ve always wanted him moved back to SS but that is obviously not happening. Great defense and average bat, just keep him out of the four hole and away from the top of the lineup.

Third Base

RK Pos   GP  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR  TB RBI   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS 
 6 3B   162 591 80 148 34  1 28 268  78 .250 .339 .453 .792 
   NL   162 618 83 164 35  2 23 272  86 .264 .334 .440 .774 

Name         AB  OPS
Encarnacion 506 .807

Everyone keeps saying he is going to break out. I always thought of him as a solid .800 to .825 OPS kind of guy. Solid bat and rough on defense. He’ll get a big raise in arbitration. I see him back next season unless they can get a 3B in return in a trade.

Shortstop

RK Pos   GP  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR  TB RBI   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS 
11 SS   162 657 76 179 39  3  6 242  60 .272 .321 .368 .689 
   NL   162 641 85 177 35  6 12 259  61 .275 .333 .401 .734 

Name         AB  OPS
Keppinger   459 .657
Hairston    261 .871

I like Keppinger, though I don’t like him as the everyday SS. He’s a better hitter than he showed this season, though. Hairston had a career season at 32 years old and can’t be counted on producing like he did this year. I’ll believe Gonzalez will be back when I see it. Shortstop is a position the Reds need to upgrade, unless they buy a clue and move Phillips over, in which case they need a 2B.

Left Field

RK Pos   GP  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR  TB RBI   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS 
 6 LF   162 582 94 144 29  2 38 291  95 .247 .361 .500 .861 
   NL   162 623 91 169 35  4 23 282  85 .271 .350 .452 .802 

Name         AB   OPS
Dunn        373  .901
Cabrera     115  .710
Dickerson   102 1.021

Dunn was dealt and we didn’t get a bat back, just a couple of pitchers and a utility catcher. Cabrera will be lucky to make the bench next year, if he is even offered arbitration. Dickerson will not hit this much going forward, but could be part of the answer in CF. He’ll be a solid 4th OF at least. This is a position that needs upgraded big-time; the RH bat fits well here. It will be interesting to see who is out in LF opening day next season.

Center Field

RK Pos   GP  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR  TB RBI   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS 
13 CF   162 659 92 164 34  3 20 264  74 .249 .299 .401 .700 
   NL   162 641 93 171 34  5 19 273  78 .267 .333 .426 .760 

Name         AB  OPS
Patterson   366 .582
Freel       131 .699

Here is another position that screams for attention. Patterson must go. We might be able to get by with a Dickerson and Freel/Hopper platoon of sorts until Stubbs is ready.

Right Field

RK Pos   GP  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR  TB RBI   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS 
11 RF   162 621 85 151 30  2 28 269  84 .243 .331 .433 .764 
   NL   162 624 88 169 37  4 21 277  84 .270 .343 .443 .786 

Name         AB  OPS
Bruce       413 .767
Griffey     359 .787

Bruce did well for his debut at such a young age. Let’s hope he keeps developing and improving like we expect him to.

PH/DH/Pitchers

RK Pos   GP  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR  TB RBI   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS 
11 PH   145 251 25  58  7  1  5  82  39 .231 .305 .327 .631 
   NL   140 234 25  54 10  1  5  81  32 .229 .317 .346 .663 

RK Pos   GP  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR  TB RBI   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS 
 7 DH     9  35  5   7  0  0  3  16   5 .200 .282 .457 .739 
   NL     8  30  4   7  1  0  1  12   4 .239 .307 .399 .706 

RK Pos   GP  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR  TB RBI   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS 
14 P    153 280 15  32  6  0  1  41  10 .114 .139 .146 .285 
   NL   154 297 16  42  7  0  1  53  16 .139 .177 .175 .352

Threw this in because it looked interesting. PH’s a tad below average; bench upgrade will help that. It will be interesting to see how Owings improves the pitchers hitting numbers next season.

Pitching

RK Pos   GP  W  L  ERA Sv CG SHO     IP    H  ER   R  BB   SO  BAA WHIP
13 Reds 162 74 88 4.55 34  2   6 1442.1 1542 729 800 557 1227 .275 1.46
   NL   162 79 82 4.29 38  4   9 1446   1457 689 749 554 1122 .263 1.39 

Looks odd that our pitching staff ranked 13th out of 16 in the NL and we are still so high on it going into next season. There is good reason for that also, let’s examine it by breaking down the starters and relievers.

Starters

RK Pos   GP  W  L  ERA Sv CG SHO     IP    H  ER   R  BB   SO  BAA WHIP
14 SP   162 51 68 4.97  0  2   0  917.1  996 507 550 343  762 .278 1.46
   NL   162 54 56 4.43  0  4   0  932    959 457 493 335  690 .267 1.39
Name     GS   ERA
Arroyo   34  4.77
Volquez  32  3.21
Cueto    31  4.81
Harang   29  4.78
Fogg     14  7.58

Starters were 14th out of 16 in the NL. There is why the staff ranked so low overall. Volquez was awesome, but he needs to show he can repeat that next season. All the other starters were below average. It’s like we had a #1 starter, three #4 starters, and an armless guy in the five spot.

Lots of reason for hope here, though. Harang came on strong and looked like himself late in the season. His ERA was a full run higher than usual, so look for him to bounce back. Arroyo fell of the cliff for a few starts; he was his average self the rest of the season. Cueto hung tough and pretty much did like what you’d expect from a young guy in his first year in the bigs. One would expect him to apply lessons learned and improve next season also.

Fogg, Bailey, Thompson, and Belisle combined for 31 starts with an ERA of over 7. We can expect big improvement in that spot next season from Micah Owings if he proves to be recovered from shoulder woes. Bailey, Thompson, Ramirez, and maybe Maloney will be in the mix for the fifth spot also. I can’t remember a year following the Reds where I didn’t think they needed another SP going into the off season.

Relievers

RK Pos   GP  W  L  ERA Sv CG SHO     IP    H  ER   R  BB   SO  BAA WHIP
 3 RP   159 23 20 3.80 34  0   0  519.0  540 219 247 213  456 .269 1.45
   NL   157 26 26 4.06 38  0   0  511    495 231 254 217  429 .255 1.39

Name        IP  ERA
Affeldt   78.1 3.33
Cordero   70.1 3.33
Lincoln   70.1 4.48
Weathers  69.1 3.25
Burton    58.2 3.22
Bray      47.0 2.87
Majewski  40.0 6.53

I was excited to see that the Reds 3.80 ERA ranked them 3rd out of 16 NL clubs. But I find it worrisome that their 1.45 WHIP belies their 3.80 ERA. Cordero did ok; of course, his wildness drove me crazy at times and he is way overpaid for a reliever. Weathers is a free agent and was solid again. The Reds will have to weigh his age and chances on decline against what he is asking for next season.

Affeldt did a good job out of the pen. He, too, is a free agent and I believe the lefty will be sought after and may get priced out of the Reds range and/or enticed to a winning ball club. Burton appears ready to step up into Weathers setup role. Bray was good and could back fill for Affeldt if he leaves via free agency. Lincoln was pretty solid and will be cheap; he should be back as a middle man next season. Majewski better just be gone. Look for Masset, Herrera, and Roenicke to compete for any open spots in spring training.

Fielding

RK TEAM  GP   E FPCT    A   PO   TC 
14 Cin  162 114 .981 1567 4327 6008 
   NL   162  99 .984 1642 4338 6079 

Reds are once again pitiful with the gloves as they rank 14th out of 16th in fielding in the NL. Is anyone else getting tired of hearing the lip service about improving the defense every year. Think they’ll ever do it? Maybe the Griffey and Dunn trades were the first steps. If so, Encarnacion will get dealt next.

Reds Free Agents

RHP Josh Fogg
RHP David Weathers
LHP Jeremy Affeldt
RHP Mike Lincoln
LHP Kent Mercker
C Paul Bako
C Javier Valentin
IF/OF Jerry Hairston Jr.
CF Corey Patterson

Mercker was injured and horrible and is likely to retire. Fogg was terrible and should not be pursued. Weathers and Affeldt had solid seasons and I suspect the Reds will make offers to retain them, otherwise they would have been wise to deal them to contenders at the trade deadline. Price will be a factor with both of them. Mike Lincoln had his moments this season and I would guess he will get an offer to come back next season also.

Bako and Patterson both stunk profusely; don’t sprain your wrist waving goodbye to them. Personally, I’d let Valentin go and find a new LH PH for next season and drop the three catcher notion. Hairston is a bit of an enigma. He played so well this year and appears that he could fill the Reds big need at either SS or CF and at the lead off spot. Problem is, he’s coming off a career season at age 32. If they Reds plan to contend, they don’t make the same mistake they made with Freel and sign Hairston to contract for starter money. He’s a poor bet to continue producing as he is now. If they can get him signed cheap for a super utility role that would be fine.

Arbitration Eligible

RHP Matt Belisle
RHP Gary Majewski
IF Edwin Encarnacion
IF Andy Phillips
IF/OF Jolbert Cabrera

I think it’s time to release Majewski. Belisle had a good stint in the pen and he shouldn’t be due a big raise this season. Encarnacion is pretty solid with the bat and will get a decent raise. Phillips and Cabrera would both have a hard time making the roster next season and it would not surprise me to see either of them let go.

That’s one man’s opinion. I guess we’ll find out soon what Walt Jocketty thinks.