* Here’s your rotation to begin the season. Volquez is at the top, which we all expected. Then things get a little screwy. Arroyo has the ebola virus or something, so he’s been dropped back to #3 initially. Travis Wood, who couldn’t even make the team last year, is the current #2. That’s temporary, of course, but he has still solidified his spot in the major league rotation. Big step for the young guy.
Leake and LeCure are likely the odd men out once Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto get healthy. I see LeCure being an option for the bullpen at that point, but unless someone else gets hurt (or if Cueto or Bailey are injured worse than the Reds are letting on), Leake is likely headed to AAA.
* This is a really strong bullpen. Cordero has his faults as closer, but Masset, Chapman, and Burton are all very good options in the setup role. There are three lefties, which gives Dusty Baker some options. Obviously, Jared Burton had to leave the game early yesterday, so injuries could become a concern, but I’m pretty happy with the bullpen right now.
My guess is that Maloney and Ondrusek need to pitch well to hang onto their spot when LeCure becomes an option, or when Jose Arredondo is ready.Infield
* If Janish gets the bulk of the starts at shortstop (and I’m very doubtful on that point), this is likely the best defensive infield in the National League. They can hit a little, too. Votto should be great again, Phillips should be the same player we’ve seen in the past. Scott Rolen’s health is the question mark. He was clearly worn down by last October, and he played more games in 2010 than he had played in five years. Should we expect him to repeat that run of health? (The answer is no.)
The bench is a little weak. You should expect Cairo to go back to his career norms this year (and next year!), while Edgar Renteria is what he is. I’ve actually come around on Francisco a bit. He doesn’t have the skill set to be a starter, but he could be helpful as a left-handed power bat off the bench. All in all, I’d prefer Todd Frazier in that bench spot, but Francisco is okay.
Perhaps my biggest concern about the 2011 Reds is what we’re going to see if Rolen is on the disabled list for any extended period of time. Miguel Cairo is simply a terrible option as a starter on anything resembling a full-time basis. I appreciate what the guy did last year, but it isn’t reasonable to expect him to repeat that, especially if he has to play more often.
* We have an idea what we are getting here. It’s a good tandem, although I’m outraged that Corky Miller didn’t make the team (no, I’m not). Once Devin Mesoraco is ready, the Reds will be in good shape at the catcher spot for years to come.
* Two-thirds of the outfield are in great shape, and Heisey is a terrific option off the bench. Concerns: Heisey is the only outfield backup right now (unless you include Francisco, who can barely manage to stand upright out there in left field), and Gomes is one of the worst left fielders in baseball. Stubbs and Bruce should be very good, though…and that makes me feel a bit better.
Overall, it’s a good roster, and should be better once everyone gets healthy. Let’s get this thing started!