If you want to continue being a Reds fan without going insane, do not read this article by Mark Sheldon over at MLB.com. I really want to be optimistic about 2009, but this piece is full of nuggets that should make any good Reds fan sick to his stomach. Some highlights:
Hairston, Chris Dickerson, Norris Hopper, and possibly non-roster invite Laynce Nix, are the main in-house options for left field.
I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.
Without Dunn, the Reds currently have just one hitter — Brandon Phillips — that scored 100 runs during a season, and just two guys that have ever totaled 90 RBIs for a season in Phillips and new catcher Ramon Hernandez.
Run production was a big problem in 2008 for Cincinnati, which was ranked 12th out of 16 National League teams in runs scored. The Reds’ .240 average with runners in scoring position was ranked at the league’s bottom.
With Votto being 25 years old and Bruce 23 on Opening Day, they’ll be under the type of heavy pressure that usually comes with being the biggest bats on the team. And that could be a lot to ask of younger guys. The 2005 Twins, coming off three straight division titles, tried to press forward without signing a big right-handed bat and relied heavily on young lefty hitters Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. Minnesota had trouble scoring runs all year and missed the postseason.
Translation: “Yes, the offense was terrible last year, and it’s going to be worse next year. Get used to it.”
Phillips, who had 30 homers two seasons ago, seems to be the Reds’ likely choice for cleanup hitter.
Take a deep breath. It’s going to be alright.
If scoring runs is an issue, so could be getting men on base to set up scoring chances. The Reds’ team on-base percentage of .321 was tied for 13th in the NL. Free-agent center fielder Willy Taveras was signed to bolster the leadoff spot, but he had an OBP of just .308 last season, and in 538 plate appearances, walked just 36 times. He did lead the Majors with 68 steals.
Hairston was optimistic about the current makeup of the Reds’ lineup, which could be the first small ball and speed team regularly deployed at the home run haven known as Great American Ball Park.
“Just being part of that lineup with Willy and myself, two guys that can run and get on base, for guys like Joey Votto and Jay Bruce — that really appeals to me,” Hairston said Wednesday. “I’m definitely excited about being in that lineup.”
Excuse me. I’m going to go jump off a bridge now.