Every year, some analyst — be it Peter Gammons, Buster Olney, Ken Rosenthal — picks the Reds as the trendy “surprise contender for the upcoming season.” Seriously, I think the Reds have been tarred with that label almost every year over the recent “lost decade.” And every year, what happens?

Right, the Reds lose and lose and lose. And Chad’s hair gets thinner and thinner and thinner. And Chad beats his head against the wall until he begins to refer to himself in the third person.

I tire of it.

However, I’m just as guilty as the next guy of getting all optimistic again every spring. Now, guess what? Yep, right on cue, here’s Dave Cameron — one of my favorite baseball writers — over at FanGraphs:

Pretty much every year, there’s a team that the projection systems are optimistic about, relative to the general feel of baseball fans and analysts at large. This year, it looks like that team may be the Reds, who haven’t been seriously talked about as contenders by too many folks, but who look like they could be pretty good on paper.

Despite winning just 78 games last year, there’s quite a bit of talent on the roster. Scott Rolen and Brandon Phillips are established All-Star caliber players, while Joey Votto certainly looks like a guy who should be able to perform at that kind of level, given how well he played in 2009. Beyond just those three, the roster is littered with upside. …

The Reds have the makings of a pretty good team in 2010. We shouldn’t be all that surprised to find them right in the thick of things come September.

Go read the entire post; it’s enough to make you feel all warm inside.

27 Responses

  1. per14

    I’ve been out of the Reds loop for about a week. What’s the status of Jonny Gomes?

  2. the rev

    Hey, hope springs eternal–as an old logo/slogan stated—RALLY THE REDS HOME

  3. Jimmy

    @JasonL: My Reds Poem on the Lost Years

    Swell in April
    Okay in May
    Swoon in June
    Goodbye in July
    Bust in August
    Never remember September

    Thank you. I’ll be here all season

  4. Jimmy

    Seriously hoping Reds break ground on some new poetic inspiration for me this year.

  5. WillRedsCHI

    Any record predix? I guessing another 78-84 season and third in the division.

  6. REDS1

    100 Wins 62 losses. What the heck and its easy math.

  7. justcorbly

    Well, he’s right. There is a lot of talent on the team, just as there had been in the past. But, you don’t win with talent, you win with production. The kind of talent the Reds have available is often unproven or inconsistent. Sure, they could compete, if everyone plays up to and beyond their potential for the entire season and if no key players are injured.

  8. TC

    It’s hard to predict. The Reds, Brewers, and Astros all look to be pretty equal. The Cubs won’t blow up this year. But no one is even close to the Birds. The Pirates, at least on paper, are much improved. Could be second, could be last. NL Central is no longer the weaking division in baseball though. (It takes a lot of thought to say that much without saying anything.)

  9. christopher strand

    @Drew Nelson:

    i thought i was the only reds/colts fan in the world! i’m from north dakota and last year i made my first trip to cincinnati…we were sitting in the three seats closest to the foul pole down the left field line and drew stubbs hit his first career homerun right at us! after the game we immediately got in the car and i made my little brother and our friend drive to indianapolis with me…we scalped tickets for the colts/eagles preseason game and we watched peyton get presented with his 3rd mvp trophy from the 50 yard line 8 rows up.

    we got on sportscenter that day in the crowd of both games haha

  10. The Mad Hatter

    I know it’s spring when the optimistic attitude takes over and I think this is the year the Reds go back to the playoffs. That being said I like this team. I was hoping for Janish to get a shot at SS but I think OC will add that infamous “veteran leadership” and this team is gonna be solid this year.

    Not to worry by June, I will more than likely back to the pessimistic viewpoint surrounding this team.

  11. Plowboy

    I rarely comment but absolutely love this site and check in every day. That said, I have to finally get some things off my chest AND ask some advice after not commenting for at least 6 months.

    Pretty much all of you guys on here are VERY serious baseball fans and have a great grasp and love of the game. With that said, I’ll admit I’ve changed my perspective on certain “traditional” perspectives and have learned a lot from many of you, thanks to your invaluable statistical insight, so thanks for that.

    So first of all, let me say, THANK HEAVENS FOR THE WILLY T TRADE!!!!!!!!!!! BEST MOVE OF THE YEAR BAR NONE! (OTHER THAN CHAPMAN, OF COURSE)

    With that cleared, somebody correct me on what I’m missing for 2010.

    1. The pitching staff is pretty much solidified: Harang, Arroyo, Cueto, Bailey, insert Maloney, Owings, etc. God willing, Volquez and Chapman will be a factor this year, but I’m thinking 2011 for both.

    2. The infield is set, though I’m VERY wary of the Cabrera signing. If it’s a stopgap for 2010 for a guy like (perhaps) Cozart, then fine. I mean, if they think they can win this year (which I think they can if all the chips fall in the right place) with both Rolen and Cabrera playing 125 games ….. well okay then, I can go with that. But I’m 40 myself and knowing the physical limitations of an average person…..well, just don’t see it happenin’ even though Cabrera seems to be very sturdy. If the dude could only get on base at league average….BUT!…I digress.

    Still, knowing that Cabrera’s range can’t be anywhere it used to be, I’d rather have seen Janish eat up those innings – lack of offense or not. Whatever. Maybe Cabrera makes up for it with a lot of those intangible we keep hearing about….

    3. LF – I’d be fine with another Gomes/Nix platoon there unless Balentien can show he’s the man – which I totally doubt. Still, Dickerson should get a lot of time out there combined with his chances in CF with Stubbs, so I guess I’ll be happy with any of these combos. As long as Willy-T isn’t in the game, there’s NO WAY they can be worse than last season, right???

    4. Bullpen should be solid along with the SP, so why can’t this team contend AS LONG AS ALL THE STARTERS DON’T GET HURT?? 😀

    I ask all this because I’m getting ready to hang with a bunch of my old-school Reds friends at a reunion, and I want to know from the best-informed….which, of course, are you guys right here at Redleg Nation.

    One caveat: Everything I’ve mentioned is with the one exemption of Dunce-ty Baker. I’m going to assume that he’s going to be a managing beast this year due to the simple fact that he simply can NOT play Willy T (or any other automatic out) due to the “relatively” talented Reds lineup that he’ll be forced to play every day.

    Sorry for the long post. GO REDLEGS!!!

    • TC

      Plowboy: I rarely comment but absolutely love this site and check in every day. … Pretty much all of you guys on here are VERY serious baseball fans and have a great grasp and love of the game.

      Plowboy, I remember you. You should post more often.

      Regarding the guys on this site, I agree 100%. I feel just like you and I just like you until until a few months ago. I read the site just about every day but rarely posted. I guess I didn’t feel like I could talk baseball with guys like preach, Travis G, BJ Ruble, KM is Batman, and Pinson343 (not to meantion all the editors). But it didn’t matter. By November I wanted to talk baseball and I didn’t know anyone who cared enough that wasn’t either a Yankees or Cubs fan.

      Anyway, what I’m saying is jump in. I’ve been a Reds fan since I was a kid (we are the same age, btw) but didn’t get serious until a few years ago. Consequently, my baseball knowledge is not close to the editors and specifically the guys I meantioned above. But they have been nothing but accomodating and hospitable. They, not the baseball and not the Reds are why I come back 2/3/10 times a day.

      PS – I’ve learned if you write long posts, no one reads them.

  12. hoosierdad

    In their final year before their option year, I figure Arroyo and Harang will have good, and perhaps, spectacular years. IF (yes, that is a big if) Bailey and Cueto have solid to better than solid years you now have a very good 4/5 rotation. I like Owings for the 5th starter but part of that is I love his bat. The bullpen should be very good. Last year it was among the best in the NL.

    The outfield and infield defense should be among the best in the NL. What scares me is the age of the left side. This is where Janish and/or Frazier and/or Sutton need to step up big time. Catching is solid, if not spectacular.

    The big question (besides SP) is what will the offense do over the course of a long season. I predict a lot better than most of last year, but not quite as good as the last 35 or 40 games.

    Bottom line: 85 up and 77 down. They’ll contend for the WC down to the last week of the season and just barely miss out on the playoffs.

    Well, that’s one man’s opinion.

  13. TC

    Hoosierdad. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to leave you out.

    • hoosierdad

      TC: Hoosierdad. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to leave you out.

      No problem, TC, I could do my best Rodney Dangerfield impersonation, “I tell ya, I don’t get no respect.” lol

  14. TC

    @hoosierdad: Since you were talking about defense, I agree, both catchers are excellent game managers and Hanigan has a Molina caliber arm. Both are decent hitters but only in certain situations. ESPN has said several times the catching crew for the Reds is a liability. I figure they must not have gotten the memo that Ross and Valentien are no longer the catchers.

    I also don’t understand when people say Hanigan is not the catcher of the future. Show me a better option in the system and I might agree. IMO catching is the weakest position in the minors. A catcher’s development is just as long (if not longer) than a pitcher and there is no one on the farm (including Mesoraco and Weems) that is a lock to make it to the show in the next two years.

    Yarbrough, the minor league free agent they signed in December intrigues me though.

  15. RedinFla

    @TC:

    Totally agree about the catching situation. While a Spanish catcher seems logical, especially with Chapman coming along, I’ve really enjoyed watching Hanigan. I remember Hal McCoy writing that he “works with the pitchers like a lion tamer”. He seems tough and focused.
    He’s another guy – like Janish – that I find myself wishing would get traded to a team with a “normal” offense so they’d get more respect and more playing time…

  16. RedinFla

    @David:

    Haven’t done enough for what? To win the World Series? Yeah, you’re probably right.

    Have they done enough to be better and more watchable than last year? That’s what most of us seem to be saying, which depends on more than statistics.

  17. TC

    @RedinFla: Diddo. We’re not even saying the Reds will win the division. When you’ve been watching suck for so long, ‘no so bad’ is a reason to get excited.

    @David: The LF situation you described is tricky though. After reading what Mark Sheldon said, I’m starting to fear Gomes is slipping away. He’d be that guy, David, in LF and middle of the order. However, then Dickerson doesn’t play.

    David is right, the Reds need another power bat in the middle of the order, but they also need two guys in the top of the order who can get on base. Dickerson, when healthy is a natural number two so there is one. The team still doesn’t have a leadoff. But, hey, most teams don’t. There are really only 10 or fewer good lead off hitters in the league and no one is Michael Bourne.

    I REALLY like Stubbs, but I think I’d rather have Dickerson in CF to hit lead off and Gomes in LF to hit clean up. Heisey is the X factor. Can’t wait to see how he does.

  18. TC

    Is it me or does it seem this team is stacked with 6 hole hitters?

    • RedinFla

      TC: Is it me or does it seem this team is stacked with 6 hole hitters?

      :mrgreen: 😡 🙄

      That pretty much sums it up, unless some guys have breakout years.

  19. RedinFla

    Remember that brief time early last season – two, three weeks maybe – when the Reds had one of the best pitching staffs in the game?

    There were days last year when I could actually approach the coffee pot at work and not be dreading what people would say about my team. I actually even started baseball conversations!

    I have to admit, I’m addicted to that feeling. There. I’ve said it. I can’t help but hope to have more days like that in 2010.
    8) 8) 8) 8) 8)

  20. TC

    @BJ Ruble: The only problem, and this is less a problem with your lineup than just not having the right hitters, I don’t like Phillips hitting 4th in any situation. Phillips is my favorite player and I like seeing him hit were he’s successful. When he was hitting second he hit like a 2 hole hitter. He hit 30 dingers though so people mistakingly though he’d be good as cleanup. You know he’s just swing the for fensing though when he falls to his knee after taking a swing. How many times did he do that last year?

  21. Redsfanx

    The winter is too long. What will be will be. Just play ball.

  22. hoosierdad

    @GregD: Count me in as a Reds/Colts fan. In that order, I might add! After all, football and basketball are what you do when it’s too cold to play baseball!